Chapter 14 The Dreamers
Gloria goes to tell Mel she is leaving for a while. We head out to my car after she changes clothes in Mel’s office. She threw on a pair of blue-jeans and a light blue turtle-neck top, she looked so beautiful. It was hard to imagine the mess she had caused, but I could somehow begin to understand how upset she would have be to have her dreams dashed due to some prank. Truly amazing.
At the hospital we find Gus, Mary, Red, Skip McCormick the Pirate Manager, Emma and Joe Curtain in the waiting room. Sitting next to Emma was a most attractive young, woman who beginning to show her pregnancy. It must be Sharon Curtain I thought. They were all sitting on 2 sofas in the waiting room. As Gus and Red spot Gloria and I coming down the corridor, Gus comes to meet us half way.
“Gus, have you heard anything from Doc Martin,” I asked softly? The marble floors and concrete walls make sound travel too easily. Mary had stopped her conversation with Emma Curtain and came to meet us.
“What we know is that he was in Intensive Care, but on the critical list, and everyone thought he was stable. They knew he had some brain tumor, that was the dark spot they saw on the X-ray, but they were hoping he would get stronger vital signs before they undertook such a grueling operation. He never did come out of the coma. Doc said he was sure there would have been vision damage even complete blindness in his left eye. The funny thing is that no one knew about his brain tumor, not Joe, Emma, or even Sharon, his wife, that’s her sitting over there next to Emma,” finished Gus.
“Can you believe it,” asked Mary? “No one knew about his brain tumor. How could that be?”
I excuse myself and walk to the Curtains. I introduce myself.
“Excuse me,” I begin. “I’m Bill Alan of the Monarchs, and I just wanted to say how sorry I am for what has happened. I never wanted anything like this to happen; I even hate it when someone gets hit by a pitch. Please believe me when I tell you how sorry I am.”
“You’re the boy who hit the ball, aren’t you,” asked Emma?
I look down to the floor in shame. “Yes, maam, I am,” I admit to her and their family.
“We wanted to talk to you sooner, but didn’t know who you were,” she added softly. “We want you to know we hold no ill feelings toward you or any of the Monarchs. Please don’t carry this burden around with you for the rest of your life. IT WAS AN ACCIDENT, NOTHING MORE,” she said firmly. “You need to believe that right now.”
“She’s right,” said Sharon Curtain as she reached out and touched my hand. “Please don’t blame yourself for this. We know you could not plan this or stop this from happening. I was just a freak accident.”
She looked warmly at me as tear started to well up in my eyes. I did my best, but one rolled down my cheek. Sharon was quick to wipe it away with her soft, little hand. “Hey,” she said, “It was just an accident, OK?”
“OK,” I said. “If there is anything I can do for you, just say the word. I gave Sharon a piece of paper that I had written my name, address, and phone number on. I also included the Monarch’s contact information who could always track me down. “Please, call me if you need anything, really,” I conclude. I squeeze Sharon’s hand and as I rise up I reach out to meet Joe Curtain’s out-stretched hand and we shake warmly. I nod to Emma who went back to be seated with Sharon. I go back over and re-join Mary, Gus, and Gloria.
“They started the autopsy about two hours ago,” said Gus. “They decided to perform it right here rather than move the body. The Monarch’s owner heard about it last night and called the hospital administrator and is paying for all the arrangements, including the autopsy. He will also take care of Sharon Curtain once this is settled. If the best doctor was in Bangladesh you can bet George would have him here pronto. He is funny that way. He has asked us to keep him informed all the way.”
As we were talking Sharon Curtain came over to us and tapped me on the shoulder. “Can we go for a little walk,” she asked? “We need to talk.”
With that we made our way down the hall, walking very slowly. I was getting somewhat more nervous with every step. I didn’t know if I was up to this or not. What kind of bomb shell was she going to drop on me?
“As the news of Chuck’s accident reached me from Joe and Emma,” she began, “I started to make arrangements to come here. I called my folks in Florida, and Chuck’s brother and sister in Arizona and California. I then called our family doctor, Dr. Franks.” Sharon paused for a long time with a serious look on her face.
“He came over to the house right away and he dropped quite a bomb on me,” she continued. “Seemed Chuck had gone to see him over these awful headaches he was having. Chuck even complained that he would lose the feeling in his arm once in a while. He refused Dr.’s offer of running some tests to see what was causing it. Doc then told me that Chuck even admitted that he would black-out once in a while. It always happed when he was alone, so no one else knew. Chuck made the Doc swear not to tell a soul about this. He never did.”
“Why would he want to keep such a secret from you,” I asked?
You see, Bill,” Sharon went on, “we lost our first child, a son we named Barry, five months ago. It was that sudden infant death syndrome, you’ve probably heard about it where children just stop breathing in their sleep. Well, anyway, it was really tough on us for a while. I guess especially me. I was mad at God, mad at the doctors, just mad at the world I guess. I just couldn’t understand what I could have done that was so bad to deserve this happening to my child. I went to Church every Sunday, even Wednesday nights once in a while. I’ve never been with any other man, Chuck was it. I think that is why Chuck never told me. He was afraid I couldn’t handle it, I guess. So he never did tell me. Doc did tell me that Chuck was afraid that if they performed surgery he might not be able to play ball again, he feared that something would go wrong during the operation. Doc Franks told me he desperately tried to convince Chuck with the great advances they’ve made it could probably be removed successfully, but Chuck was not buying it. Chuck was always great for putting things off, anyway.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from Sharon. “I’m so sorry,” I reply to Sharon. “What a terrible mistake, all of this.”
“Bill, the reason I am telling you this is that I don’t want you to go through the rest of your live carrying ten tons of guilt about this,” added Sharon. She stopped walking, turned and looked me square in the eyes. She reached out and threw her arms threw mine and around my chest, burying her head in my chest, starting to sob.
“Sharon,” I begin as I put my arms around her trying to console her, “don’t worry about me. I am more worried about you and this baby you are about to have. My problems are small compared to what you are looking at. I think you would agree.”
She released her arms from me and pulled back to look at me. “I’m not worried about any of that she said. Chuck has $2 million of life insurance so money is not going to be a problem, no father for my child is, but there are many other people with worse problems than mine. I will be able to afford to deal with mine and I have a loving, supportive family behind me. Many single moms don’t,” she concluded.
“You are taking this better than I ever thought you would,” I add. “I guess all you know and have gone through has brought you to this point.
“What you must understand, Bill,” Sharon went on, “is that one day Chuck could have fallen over dead in some gas station wash room from this tumor he would not deal with. Whether it was a hit baseball or nothing at all, it doesn’t matter. Problems never go away. We must deal with them the best we know how and get on with it. Chuck couldn’t do it and so here we are today. He probably should not have been out on that mound pitching. He always complained about these wicked headaches, but kept telling me it was just migraines. We know now it wasn’t.”
We talked just a little longer and Sharon gave me another hug, which I returned. We made our way back to the families waiting for us. They still had not heard anything.
Joe Curtain spoke. “I think we’d like to go get some lunch if that is all right with you folks?”
With that the Nurse came over and asked if we could join her in a private room off the main corridor. The Curtain family headed off, but Sharon turned to see us all standing still. She motioned for us to follow.
“You all come with us,” she stated. “There is no reason for you not to be with us. There are no secret here. She motioned again for us to follow, which we did. We entered the room with the Nurse, Doc martin, and another Doctor.
“My name is Dr. Rosenbaum,” he began. “I am afraid I have some rather startling new for you. Chuck Curtain had a very large brain tumor. The sad part was that I truly believe that it was operable and it was not malignant, which would have made any surgery less dangerous. The size of the tumor would have caused him terrible headaches, and might have even caused occasional black outs, or at the least severe dizzy spells. Did Chuck ever complain to anyone about this?”
Sharon filled the Doctor in on what she had told me. He just stood there, shaking his head. Emma and Joe were shocked. Emma started crying uncontrollably. Joe held her tight. Everyone looked at each other.
“Well,” Doctor Rosenbaum continued, “that was only part of it. The autopsy found a huge amount of cocaine in his system. I am quite surprised he could even make it out of bed let alone pitch in a baseball game!” he concluded.
Everyone in the office was stunned. The silence was broken only by Emma’s increased sobbing which was muffled by her face being buried in Joe’s chest. Sharon Curtain didn’t move or make a sound which kind of frightened me. I guess my chauvinism was expecting her to fall apart. Skip McCormick moved up near Sharon and put his arm around her shoulders. He was visibly upset.
“Sharon, I don’t know what to say,” Skip began. “I really can’t believe it. We are drug tested all the time. Not once did he test positive for anything. How can this be?”
“Well, there is no doubt about it,” said Dr. Rosenbaum. “We double checked everything. It was definitely cocaine.”
“How soon can I begin to make arrangement to transport my husband’s body back to Maine for burial,” asked Sharon?
“We can have him ready by the morning if that will be alright with you,” replied Doc Martin?
“That will be fine,” replied Sharon.
Mary went over to Sharon and Emma.” “Let’s go back over to the Dodges and get some lunch. I think Emma could use some piece and quiet. A little rest might do us all some good,” she concluded, coaxing them to move into the hallway.
With that, Mary and Sharon moved down the corridor arm in arm. The men all shook the doctor’s hands and thanked them for their efforts. We were all so numb, not really believing what we had heard. I felt prepared, but not for this kind of news. His death was one thing, but his medical condition and cocaine use were something else all together. This is a game of pulled muscles not Last Rites. I couldn’t help of thinking of Sharon and her baby as Gloria and I made our way down the hall and into the elevator. It was a very quiet ride to the ground floor. None of it made any sense. At least not to me.