This is a work of creativity. As such, you may see words, concepts, scenes, actions, behaviors, pictures, implements, and people that may or may not be socially acceptable and/or offensive. If you are sensitive to adverse and alternative subject matter of any kind, please do not proceed, because I guarantee you’ll find it here. You have been warned. Read at your own risk.
I do not own Fifty Shades Trilogy, or the characters. They belong to E. L. James. I am only exercising my right to exploit, abuse, and mangle the characters to MY discretion in MY story in MY interpretation as a fan. If something that I say displeases you, please, just leave. If you don’t like this story or me, please don’t spoil this experience for everyone. Just go away. For the rest of you, the saga continues…
Season 5 Episode 21
I’m about six years old. Lelliot is nine. I’m barely talking and he’s trying to see what makes me tick. I’m playing with my Legos in the family room and Lelliot is playing with his Gameboy. I‘m trying to build a replica of the treehouse, but it’s not going very well. My six-year-old mind can’t comprehend why the treehouse platform—which looks nothing like a treehouse platform, by the way—won’t balance on my Lego tree trunk.
We’re playing in relative harmony until Lelliot tells me that my treehouse is never going to work because the trunk is too skinny to hold it up. I ignore him. If the tree in the backyard can hold up the treehouse, then my tree trunk should be able to hold up this treehouse. So, I just keep building, and just when I start building the platform…
Multi-colored Legos scatter all over the floor and under some of the furniture. Frustrated, I gather all the Legos I can find and start over, and just like before, as soon as I start building the platform…
Becoming angrier, I gather the scattered Legos again and try a different way. I build the tree trunk first, and then I build the platform separately. There! That should do it. I put together a badly constructed house on one side of the platform, and what I think a picnic table made of Legos should look like on the other side of the platform. I stand back and look at my creation, very pleased with the finished product… well, almost finished.
I take my finished platform, house, and picnic table, and attach it to my tree. A few seconds later…
I’m furious now and Lelliot is still laughing.
“God, you’re such a dork,” he teases. “I told you, the tree isn’t going to hold up the house. You’re doing it all wrong.” He shakes his head and goes back to his Gameboy.
Still angry, but determined to make the treehouse work, I build the tree again, and then the platform, house, and table. Then I put them together.
I build them again…
Defeated, I fold my arms and pout really hard. Lelliot just laughs at me and keeps playing with his Legos. I want to push him really hard like I did before and he bumped his head on the wall. Then, he’ll stop laughing at me.
“What’s going on in here?”
Angel Lady, Momma Grace, comes in with the baby in her arms.
If the man with the boots ever comes back, I’m taking Baby Meelo and we’re running away forever.
“Christian, what are you doing?” she asks. I look at the Legos all over the floor, then point out the window to where the treehouse is.
“You’re trying to make a tree?” she asks, and I nod.
“He’s trying to make the treehouse,” Lelliot says, still laughing, “but he’s doing it all wrong.”
“Well, did you try to help him?” Momma Grace says. Lelliot shrugs.
“I told him he was doing it wrong,” he says, “that the tree was too skinny.”
“Did you show him what he was doing wrong?” Momma Grace says.
“No,” Lelliot replies. “I don’t wanna play with Legos. Besides, he might hit me.”
“Hold your sister while I try to help him,” she says. Lelliot’s face frowns.
“I don’t wanna play with babies, either, Mom,” he says, and leaves the room with his Gameboy. Momma Grace rolls her eyes like she does when Lelliot makes her mad, then she puts Baby Meelo on the sofa. She puts a bunch of pillows around her, like a fort, then she gets on the floor with me.
“So,” she says, “let’s see how you build your treehouse.”
Momma Grace watches as I build the tree, then the platform, then the house, then the picnic table.
“Hmm,” she says, looking at the pieces. “Why don’t we do a platform for the tree, too?” she says. I frown and shake my head. The tree isn’t on a platform. The house and the table are on the platform.
“Well,” she says, “we’ll make it green… like the grass.”
I twist my lips. The tree is on the green grass. Okay, I nod. Momma Grace plays with my Legos with me and we find a lot of green ones and make grass.
“Okay, now, let’s put the tree on the grass.”
I put the tree on the grass, and I like it.
“Now, let’s look at the tree.” Momma Grace puts her hand on her chin and looks like she’s thinking.
“Christian, I want you to close your eyes and think about the treehouse.” I close my eyes like she tells me to.
“Think about the big brown part at the bottom of the treehouse.” I think about the big brown part. It’s a tree trunk, Momma Grace, I think to myself. It’s rough and it looks like it would hurt if you tried to slide down it.
“Now, open your eyes and look at your tree.”
I open my eyes and frown.
“Does that look like the tree from the treehouse?” No, it doesn’t. It’s skinny and tall, and the tree trunk on the treehouse is fat and short. Lelliot was right. I hate it when Lelliot is right. I shake my head.
“What do you think we need to do to fix it?” she asks. I take half of the Legos off the top of the tree and put them next to the tree to make it fatter.
Still not fat enough.
I build another tower next to the two.
Still not fat enough.
Just as I’m about to build another tower, Momma Grace speaks.
“Can I show you something, Christian?” she says, and I turn to look at her. She puts her fingers on top of one of my towers and wiggles it.
“You see that?” she says, and I nod. “That’s why the treehouse falls down. The trunk isn’t strong enough.” She puts her fingers on top of two of my towers and wiggles them both.
“Two won’t be strong enough either because they both wiggle. Three will wiggle, too. Can I show you something else?” I twist my lips and look at her, then nod.
She takes down my towers, but leaves them intact so that I’m not too traumatized by their destruction. Then she starts building a base for the tree trunk—something like a circle, but not. She puts some Legos in the middle of the circle, and then she puts another layer of Legos on top, and another…
“Do you see what I’m doing, Christian?” she asks, and I nod. She’s building them up—not separate towers, but kinda like bricks on a house.
“When you do them like this, it makes the trunk stronger, so that maybe it won’t fall. Now you try.”
I build and build and build, just like Momma Grace showed me, until I have a fat, round, rough tree trunk just like the one outside. I smile. I’m happy with the tree trunk.
“Very good, Christian. Now, let’s look at the treehouse.” She puts her hand on her chin like she’s thinking again, and I do the same thing.
“The platform looks a little big for the tree trunk,” she says. “Maybe you should make it smaller…”
I can’t make it smaller! If I do, the house and the picnic table won’t fit!
“Let’s move the picnic table closer to the house. Then we can make the platform smaller and it will fit on the tree trunk.”
I twist my lips. They are kinda far away. I take the Legos off the platform that I used to build the picnic table, then put it together close to the house. That means that we have to take the platform apart a little bit to make it smaller…
There! The platform is smaller now.
“Okay, now put the platform on the trunk.”
I test the platform like Momma Grace did my towers, and it doesn’t wiggle at all! I connect the platform to the tree trunk and…
It doesn’t fall.
“You did it, Christian!” Momma Grace says happily. I smile wide and clap my hands. She goes over to the fireplace and gets the camera.
“Look at me and smile, Christian,” she says. “I want to get a picture of you and your treehouse.”
I look at her and smile wide while she takes the picture. My treehouse looks great! And it didn’t crash. I look over at the fort on the sofa and the baby sleeping inside it.
I did it, Baby Meelo…
It’s morning now, and I’ve been sitting on the sofa all night thinking of my mother and all the things she did to help me along while I was growing up. I didn’t speak for years, but she knew how to communicate with me. She taught me to play the piano until I began to take professional lessons. She was as patient as she could be through my troubled teenage years. Even when she turned me over to the hands of the Pedophile, she was at the end of her rope and thought that she was getting help from a trusted and treasured friend.
When I dropped out of school and Dad essentially disowned me, Mom quietly supported me no matter what. She would still encourage me and give me that Mom smile that no one else had. When I completed my first successful venture and started making some real money, she boasted to Dad about how well I was doing. He still didn’t warm to the idea, though. He needed more proof.
It wasn’t until I was a certified millionaire two years later that Dad admitted that he may have been wrong about me and Harvard.
May have been…
I didn’t speak to him for a while after that. It served him right because he barely spoke to me for those two years after I dropped out of college, but we later buried the hatchet. I understood why he felt the way he did about me dropping out. I just thought he would never have any faith in me, and that hurt.
Mom, though, she never gave up on me. Even when she wasn’t sure about my decisions or I was driving her crazy with my behavior, she always did her best to understand, and even though I didn’t know how to properly express it, I’ve always loved her for that.
“Christian! Hello, son. How is everyone doing?” Mom asks.
“As well as can be expected, Mom,” I reply. “How are you? How are things back there?”
“Thankfully, very quiet,” she replies. “Things are running smoothly at the Center and for the most part, we’re all doing just fine. How’s Ana? Any change in her mother’s condition?”
“As a matter of fact, there is,” I say. “Carla regained consciousness yesterday.”
“She did?” I can tell that my mother doesn’t quite know how to respond to this news. “How does Ana feel about that? I know their relationship is… strained, for lack of a more appropriate word.”
“I don’t really know, Mom,” I tell her. “It’s a roller coaster ride to say the least. One minute, she’s stoic and strictly professional, only concerned with making sure that Carla gets the appropriate care. The next minute, she’s weeping and hurt that she didn’t get the consideration that Carla is getting, and the next minute, she’s livid about the entire situation. Sometimes, I think she doesn’t know how to feel.”
“Well, it’s obviously a confusing and frustrating time for her. She’s in a place she obviously hates, she already has to deal with that horrible trial and all the emotional turmoil it no doubt brings about, and then this thing with her mother. I’m certain that her emotions are just a big ball of mess right now.”
“Yes, but…” I thrust my hands into my hair. “I’m no psychiatrist, we know this, but I believe my wife’s confusion is much more than that. It’s like she wants to feel compassion for her mom’s condition, but she can’t because of all this anger and hatred. There’s this deep-seated betrayal that she feels and justifiably so, but it’s compounded by the fact that her mother has a huge support system down here.”
“She does?” my mother asks, surprised. “I was under the impression that she wasn’t particularly liked in that circle.”
“She’s not in that circle anymore,” I reply. “She moved out of that community; she changed jobs; she’s a completely different woman from the person I knew. This should be a good thing, but it’s causing Butterfly grief because Carla has the support system that Butterfly wished she had when she was in this situation. To be honest, Butterfly would have even been happy to have just her mom without the additional support system, but she didn’t even have that. Now, she’s feeling resentful that Carla has an entire tribe, so to speak.”
“Oh, that’s bad,” my mother says.
“Oh, it’s worse,” I tell her. “Either the staff there doesn’t know about my wife’s past with her mother or they don’t care about it, and they’ve been treating her badly.”
“What do you mean, treating her badly?” Mom asks. “Unless Carla is incapacitated and Ana has been abusing her, they have no right to treat her with anything else but respect! In fact, they’re obligated!”
“Well, let’s begin by saying that Carla is incapacitated,” I tell her. “She’s paralyzed from the waist down as a result of the accident.”
“Oh, dear God,” my mother says.
“Yeah. Anytime Butterfly has spoken to any of the staff, she has only been professional—not compassionate, but professional.”
“I get it, but that’s not abuse,” my mother points out.
“You know that, and I know that, but apparently, the staff—particularly the nurses from what I’ve seen—feels that she should be licking the feces straight from her mother’s ass, if you’ll forgive the expression.”
“Ew… oh, gosh, Christian,” my mother replies disgusted. “Well, she should report them to their superiors. They shouldn’t be treating anybody that way.”
“It wouldn’t help,” I tell her. “I imagine that the doctors don’t treat her much better. They’re not rude to her, Mom, they’re just cold and callous and when they think her back is turned, they’re very judgmental. And what’s worse, we don’t know if this was an accident or if Carla really threw her car off the overpass. We can’t get a straight answer out of her.” There’s a pause.
“Well, what does she say when you ask?” my mother says.
“She evades,” I say. “She talked about how my conspiracy theories have me paranoid and that there was no secret plot to kill her—it was just her and the car on that bridge.”
“How old is she?” my mother asks.
“Late forties,” I say. “She was a young military wife and mother when she had Anastasia.”
“Well, it’s not impossible,” she says. “She could be going through the same thing I am, Christian…”
Or she could’ve just thrown her damn car off that bridge.
“I’ll tell Butterfly,” I reply.
“You don’t think so,” she calls me out.
“I don’t know what to think, Mom,” I admit. “She was so calculating when I first met her. She and her pickled husband showed up in Seattle when Butterfly was in the hospital after the kidnapping. It was a disaster. You already know about the payoff that they took to keep Butterfly quiet after the beating. Then, when her husband dies, we come to Vegas for last rites. Butterfly dropped her purse and the woman tried to steal it! She took advantage of camera time when our engagement was announced to call my then-fiancée out for living in the lap of luxury while she struggled on a CNA’s salary. My wife brings her to Seattle for the final showdown at which time she tells my wife that she only ripped Butterfly from Ray in the first place because she was a tax deduction.”
“Oh, my,” my mother says.
“Yes!” I respond. “I gave her a piece of my mind and she came back and tried to make amends with Butterfly, but Butterfly wasn’t having it by that time. So, now she shows up at the trial, purging and pouring her heart out and I don’t trust her. I went to her house with another check and told her to go away and she didn’t take the check. She kicked me off her property—check and all—and a week later, she goes over an overpass.
“Could this be perimenopause? Could be. Did she try to kill herself? I don’t know. Are there bats in the belfry? I’d bet my fortune on it. What does all of this mean? I’m clueless. With all the friends that it appears that she has now, it would seem that she’s turned over a new leaf and she has a lot to live for. So, what gives?”
“Well, it still is a possibility, Christian, but of course only the professionals can say for sure. Impress upon your wife the importance of a possible evaluation in that direction. If this is the case, she’ll only hurt herself further without the proper care… and if she really did try to kill herself either way…” She trails off.
“I know, Mom,” I say, running my hands through my hair again. “And Mom?”
“Thank you,” I say. “Thank you for rescuing me… for having enough love in your heart to take in a troubled child and try to make him whole. Thank you for seeing the best in me even when I couldn’t see it in myself… when everybody else was pointing out all of my faults.” I drop my head.
“Thanks for never giving up on me. Thanks for sticking up for me, for fighting for me. Thanks for letting me know that I was never alone, even when I felt like nobody cared. I was a horrible kid…”
“Christian, you weren’t…”
“Let me finish, Mom, please,” I interrupt her. “I know it wasn’t my fault. I’m still fighting with some things, but I was a horrible kid. I couldn’t let anybody touch me; I wouldn’t let anybody in; I wasn’t receptive to anything but the inappropriate behavior that crazy witch exposed me to. Do you remember that last real fight I had in high school?”
“You’ll have to refresh my memory,” she admits.
“I came home beat all to hell and you immediately tore into me. I had recorded the fight, but my phone was destroyed in the process, but I saved my SIM card and gave it to you. You called the police because you saw that the boys had beaten me trying to get me to fight back like I normally did, but that time I didn’t.”
“Yes!” she says. “Yes, I remember that. You didn’t have any fights after that.”
“Right. Well… it wasn’t because of you that I did that. It was because of her.” That’s a painful thing to admit. “She punished me when I had the last fight before that. She beat me and she wouldn’t see me. I could take her beating me but I couldn’t take her not seeing me… so, I made up in my mind that the next time a fight happened, I would just let it happen, because apparently, I was damned if I fought back and I was damned if I didn’t. I didn’t expect for it to be that bad, though.” I sigh.
“I didn’t expect to get the support from you—or her—that I did. I just knew that I couldn’t go back to school if my only option was to allow them to beat me that way. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I knew that I wasn’t going back to school. When the police showed up, I thought they were coming to get me and all I thought was, ‘Great. I don’t have to go back to school.’ When they convinced me to go to the hospital, I didn’t want them to see my back because they would have seen where she beat me, and the gig would have been up.
“I never thought I would ever tell you that story, but through everything I am and everything I was, you stood by me. Right or wrong, you always stood by me, even when you were chewing my ass out… and I’m grateful for that, Mom. From the moment you first saw me, you never left me to float in this crazy and cruel world on my own. You loved me through it all. And even though Butterfly opened the door for me to give love back, you were my first love, Mom. You were the one that showed me what true love meant from the very beginning, even though I couldn’t understand it.
“Even though I feel horrible for my wife and what she’s going through with her mother, I’m shamefully and selfishly glad that it’s not me. I’m glad that I got you instead of a woman like Carla. Even with the hard start with the crack wh… with my birth mother, it all brought me to you… and I thank you… and I love you.”
“Oh, Christian,” my mother weeps into the phone. “I love you, too, baby.” I allow her to cry for a few more moments.
“Don’t cry, Angel Lady,” I say softly. “I don’t want Dad flying to Las Vegas to give me what-for for reducing his beautiful wife to tears.” She chuckles through her sobs.
“You know I’ve always loved you,” she weeps softly.
“And I’ve always loved you… even before I could express it properly. Now, buck up. No more crying.”
“Okay,” she says, “but these are happy tears. Christian. And Cary wouldn’t come after you right now because I’m at the Center and he can’t see me.” We both laugh softly.
“I gotta go now, Mom,” I say, trying to hide the crack in my voice. “I love you.”
“And I love you, son.”
When we end the call, I drop my head and allow the tears to fall quietly down my cheeks. I hate that Butterfly has to go through this. It’s cruel. I want to get her out of this place as soon as possible. The thought of her spending night after night after night singing Disney songs and nursery rhymes just to get through the miserable years of her childhood. Jesus, her life must have been agony. It’s almost too much to bear.
I feel soft hands on my shoulders that slide down to my chest to comfort me. How much did she hear? Did she hear me compare myself to her? Of course, she did. That was one of the last things I said.
“My Mom <sniff> said that…”
“Ssshh,” she says, moving one of her hands to my hair. “Not now.”
My shoulders drop in relief and anguish, but luckily, I don’t collapse in sobs. I may not be able to stop. She pulls me closer to her and I cover her hand on my chest with my own, finally able to compose myself after a while.
“My mom says that Carla could be perimenopausal,” I finally tell her. “That she could have done this to herself because of that.”
“She does seem a bit angry,” Butterfly admits, still caressing my hair, “but she seems a bit too angry at the situation for her to have done this to herself. I’ll keep it in mind, though. Until we know exactly what happened, anything is possible.”
She’s still caressing my hair. I haven’t gotten any sleep and if she keeps this up, I’m going to fall asleep… on her stomach… sitting up.
“Emotions are very powerful… and draining,” I admit.
“Yes,” she concurs. “They can be quite the challenge. They drive some people insane.”
“I can see how,” I say, lamenting everything that she has been through in the past weeks. I clear my throat. “What’s the plan for the day? Are you going to the hospital?”
“Only briefly,” she says. “I want to get an update on my mother and find out what’s next. She did throw me out yesterday. Even though she never had any consideration for my feelings during this time, I’ll still respect her wishes if she doesn’t want me there. I’m going to call her best friend if she hasn’t already. I’ll let Wendy make the call to arms for the rest of her support system. I’ll let them take care of her for a day because I’m giving Gail and Jason a day in Vegas and I’m taking Sophie to see ‘O.’”
Still thinking of others throughout this entire ordeal. Dear God, give me strength to possess half the goodness that my wife does.
“I’ll shower and get dressed. You want the en suite in the main bathroom?” I ask.
“Christian, I know you didn’t come to bed. You haven’t had any rest,” she protests.
“I’ll be fine,” I assure her. “I’ll get some rest later, but you’re not going to the hospital alone anymore unless something at GEH needs my dire and immediate attention. Now, which bathroom do you want to use?”
I can see the hidden sneer on the nurse’s face the moment we exit the elevator—you know, that look like she’s smelling something bad, but she doesn’t want to change her expression. The three nurses that we’re at the station when we left yesterday are all there today along with three others, and the head nurse—or at least she looks like the head nurse—is the one sneering at my wife.
“How is my mother?” Butterfly says, getting straight to the point. The nurse raises a brow at her as if to say, “Oh, are you really concerned?” My wife cocks her head and glares at the woman until she finally decides to speak.
“Not very well,” the nurse says, matter-of-factly, “emotionally, that is. She won’t eat, she won’t say anything beyond what’s utterly necessary, and she’s staring out the window. Medically, her condition hasn’t changed. It’s no better and no worse. However, I would say that she’s in desperate need of some moral support right now.”
Her tone is professional—not rude, but cold as fuck. Butterfly picks up on it.
“Is Dr. Lee on duty today?” Butterfly asks.
“Yes, Mrs. Grey,” the nurse says. Mrs?
“Please page him for me,” my wife says.
“Yes, Mrs. Grey,” she replies coolly and picks up the phone. My wife turns and begins to walk towards Carla’s room, and the nurse’s sneer becomes visible and disdainful as she walks away. The other nurses do a little chuckle like they’re sharing an inside joke.
What am I, chopped liver? Don’t they see me standing here looking at them?
“Excuse me,” I say to the nurse at the desk, breaking her sarcastic glare at my wife’s retreating back.
“Yes, sir?” she smiles at me.
“What’s your name?” I ask.
“Lindsay,” she says, sweetly, “McCallan.”
“Well, Nurse McGillicutty…” I begin.
“McCallan,” she corrects, with no malice.
“McCollough?” I say.
“McCallan,” she says, a little more perturbed.
“McCauley?” I continue.
“Mick-Allen… McCallan,” she says, now very angry.
“Yes! McCallan,” she declares.
“Nurse McCallan… you didn’t like that, did you?”
“No!” she answers immediately, before she could catch herself, “but… it’s fine. It’s not a common name.”
“Well, Nurse McCallan, Doctor is,” I reply. Her brows furrow and she looks at me nonplussed.
“Yes,” I continue, “you use the term every day, several times a day, so I’m certain that you have no problem formulating the word in your mouth. So that I’m clear…” I lean on the counter closer to her. “Her name. Is Doctor Grey. Not. Mrs. Grey!” McCallan clears her throat.
“Dr. Grey never corrected us on her title…” she begins.
“Does any other doctor in the hospital have to correct you on that?” I ask. “You know she’s a doctor, I’m certain of it, so she shouldn’t have to. Did she give you her express permission to drop her proper title?”
McCallan looks to my left and I don’t have to look over to know that Butterfly has returned to the nurses’ station.
“No, she did not,” McCallan says, chastised but reluctant.
“Good. I’m glad we established that,” I reply, standing up straight. “She attended college two to four times longer than any of you did and she passed state board exams that none of you took to earn that title, and you will give her the respect that she deserves by addressing her properly! She may not correct you on her proper title, but I sure as hell will!”
I lean on the counter once more when I don’t get a response from any of them.
“And by the way, you and your catty little colleagues can take your snotty little judgmental attitudes and shove ‘em back in your scrubs, or I can take this to your superiors. Are we clear?”
“Sir!” I turn to my right to the voice that is apparently trying to get my attention. I stand to my full height to face the gentleman walking towards me. “Can you tell me why you’re standing here harassing my nurses?”
Oh-ho-ho, wrong move, doc. I turn to my wife.
“Do you know him?” I ask. She shakes her head. I turn to the doctor who now has his hands on his hips over his scrubs but under his lab coat like he’s about to put me in my place.
“I was just giving your nurses a refresher course on the proper etiquette when they’re addressing a doctor! They seem to have forgotten that particular piece of protocol for the last 11 days that my wife has been coming to this hospital to see to the care of her mother!” I point my thumb behind me to my wife and the doctor’s face falls just a bit.
“Nurse McCallahaster here gets her clipboard all in a wad when I butcher her name, yet she can’t form the word doctor when she sees my wife! What’s more, we’re not even from this God-forsaken place! We’re here on very delicate business notwithstanding the condition of her mother, and more times than I care to recount, my wife has come back to our hotel room sobbing and reduced to tears over the behavior of this supercilious coven of banshees!”
The nurses gasp and the doctor is now gape-mouthed staring at me as I apprise him of the behavior of his nurses.
“My wife’s mother just awoke from a coma yesterday,” I continue. “I come to the hospital to find out the prognosis and I find my wife standing in the hallway weeping and barely able to talk. I come to find out that she was reduced to that state because of some cruel comments these women made when they didn’t know that she was listening, and she was on duty at the time!”
I point to one of the nurses near the back of the nurses’ station that I remember from yesterday.
“Sir… I’m… I…” The doctor is tripping over his tongue now.
“Mr. Grey,” I say firmly before pulling my wife next to me and putting my arm protectively around her. “And this is Dr. Grey. My wife said she didn’t want to pursue this issue—she would rather just let it die. However, once I noticed them refer to her as Mrs. Grey once more and this toddler…” I point to McCallan, “… giving her a disdainful look as she was walking away, I realized that it’s not going to die.
“This place is full of the most judgmental people I’ve ever seen on earth—and that says a lot, because I’ve been a lot of places—but the hospital?? This is how you treat the family members of your patients simply because they’re not contrite enough for your taste? Are you serious? We have the Paparazzi following us around and begging for a story. Should we give them this one?”
“No! Mr. Grey, no, I assure you, we will take care of this matter!” the doctor kowtows, and I still don’t know who he is, nor do I need to. “I apologize to you and to your wife—Dr. Grey—for any inconvenience or discomfort you’ve felt during your encounter with us…”
“I don’t know,” I say. “I think I may need to speak to the members of the board about this.”
“I think we should,” I hear my wife say, and I turn to her. “You said that this one gave me a disdainful look?” she asks, and I nod. “Her, that one, and that one were at the nurses’ station yesterday. Right before you walked up and interrupted their little confab, one of them declared that I was in a loveless marriage and I looked like I was miserable. They also called me the perfect example of ‘money can’t buy happiness.’ You’re right—they do know that I’m a doctor because one of them said that I must not be a real doctor since I didn’t correct them on skipping my title. And the most flattering thing they had to say about me was that one of them called me a cold broad and suggested that they contact a patient advocate since I’m clearly incapable of making sure that my mother has the proper care.” My eyes narrow.
“You didn’t tell me all that,” I tell her.
“I told you, I didn’t want to pursue it, but then you told me that Broomhilda here gave me the evil eye and I realize that you’re right… it’s not going to die.”
“Dr. Greer, we weren’t serious when we said those things…” one of the nurses protests and the doctor raises his hand to silence her. I just shake my head.
“You ever heard of movers and shakers?” I ask. “Believe me when I tell you that I’m both, but I’m not looking for special treatment. I’m looking for the same common courtesy that you would give anybody else in this position! And if these women can’t do it, then you need to hire some people who can!”
The doctor begins sniveling again, but I ignore him, put my hand in the small of my wife’s back, and lead her to her mother’s room. I’ll admit that sometimes, I’m looking for special treatment. I’m looking for someone to treat me like a king.
This is not one of those times.
I can deal with the usual disdainful, catty, jealous women that see my wife and hate her immediately just because of who she is, how she looks, what she has, and who she’s with—and I can only deal with that marginally. However, this behavior is completely unacceptable, and I will not let it slide.
I’m not sure, but I think my mother rolled her eyes when I entered the room. Her bed is in the upright position and she’s looking out the window now.
I don’t need this either, Mother.
“I won’t stay long,” I say when I enter. “I know you don’t want me here and I just want to get some information on your condition and your progress.”
“I never said that I didn’t want you here, Anastasia,” my mother corrects me. “I’m very emotional about this, and I would think that’s something that you would understand.”
“Oh, I understand perfectly, Mother. Trust me,” I reply flatly. My mother sighs and looks out the window. Christian takes a seat and I pull out my phone.
“Hello?” the voice answers uncertainly.
“This is Anastasia Grey.” There’s a pause.
“Is she…?” Everybody asks that partial question first. I guess it’s to be expected.
“No, I’m calling to tell you that she’s awake,” I say quickly. I see my mother look over at me and I’m sure she doesn’t want to face Wendy at this time for whatever reason. Tough.
“She is?” Wendy says, gleefully. “Oh, dear God, she is? I’m on my way! Can I come now?”
“Yes, please,” I tell her. She ends the call without even saying goodbye. I can tell that she doesn’t want to waste a moment getting here.
“I really wish you hadn’t done that,” she says.
“Well, Mother, you need your friend,” I reply. “She cares deeply for you and she’s been here reading to you nearly every day.”
“I know,” she replies, turning back to the window. “I heard her… sometimes.”
“Why wouldn’t you want her here now?” I ask. “She clearly cares for you and she’s suffering not knowing what’s going to happen to you!” She sighs.
“Yes,” she says without looking at me, “I guess it’s good that she’s coming.”
I shake my head. I don’t know what’s going through this woman’s mind. Why wouldn’t you want people around you who care about you when you really don’t want me here and I don’t really feel that way about you?
For them to love her so much, I see that they haven’t tended to some of the older plants in the room. I move the dying plants closer to the door to be removed, then retrieve her pitcher from her tray table.
I go to the en suite and fill it with water. When I return to the room, Christian is typing away on his phone. I press the call button, then proceed to water the plants that are still thriving. A few moments later, one of the nurses enter that I’m not familiar with.
“Hello, Mrs. Morton. What can I do for you?” she asks.
“She called you,” my mother says, pointing to me.
“Yes, ma’am?” she says, turning to me. She obviously doesn’t know who I am… or she’s been briefed.
“Can we please have a fresh pitcher of ice water?” I ask. She nods.
“Anything else for you?” I look over at my mother who is still not responding.
“Some ice cream or some pudding,” I say. “I’m told she hasn’t been eating.”
“I’ll bring some Ensure,” the nurse says. “That’s a good meal replacement.”
“Thank you,” I say, and she leaves.
“Are you going to force feed me?” she says softly.
“I’m not going to force you to do anything, Mother,” I say. “Your recovery is going to depend on you. I’m going to make sure that you have the things in place to facilitate that recovery, but you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.” She sighs again but says nothing.
“I need to go to the administrative office to… take care of some things,” Christian says, standing to his feet. “You’ll be okay?” I nod, and he kisses me gently on the forehead and cups my cheek.
“Text me if you need me,” he says. “I’m only a few floors away and I’ll be right back.” I smile and nod, and he leaves the room.
“He loves you very much,” my mother says. I turn back to her and she’s still looking out the window.
“Not according to the nurses,” I say, watering another plant.
“I don’t think I want to know why you say that,” she says.
“No, you don’t,” I reply without looking at her. “Let’s just say that Vegas is your town, not mine.” I finish watering her plants and begin to clean away the dead leaves from the counter and window sill. “It never has been.”
“Vegas isn’t my town,” she corrects me.
“Green Valley Henderson Vegas Summerlin it’s all the same to me,” I say in one breath as I dispose of the leaves. She takes another tissue from the box, dabs her eyes and blows her nose.
“Wendy must’ve brought this gown,” she says, looking down at her garb. “She knew it was the only way she’d get me in it. She probably put it on me so that I could wake up and tell her to get it the hell off of me,” she adds with a chuckle. I raise my brow, but I don’t respond. “I’d text her to tell her to bring me something else… but I don’t have my phone anymore.”
Note to self… get her another phone. I’d be lost without mine.
The nurse comes back in with ice water and Ensure and smiles at my mother.
“Here you are, Mrs. Morton,” she says, situating the tray table over her and placing the picture and bottle on top of it.
“I totally understand that you don’t feel like eating right now,” the nurse says, “but please, drink the Ensure. It’s going to be good for you.”
“Thank you, dear,” my mother says, putting a straw in the bottle and drinking some of the supplement.
“Anything else for you?” the nurse says, looking from me to my mother. Mother shakes her head.
“Can you see if Dr. Lee has been paged?” I ask. She nods.
“I think he has, but I’ll double-check,” she says before leaving the room. Just as she leaves, Wendy comes barreling into the room. What did she do, fly?
“Carla!” she says, her voice breathy.
“Window! What the hell is with this gown!” Window?
Wendy crosses the room in a few steps and embraces my mother warmly, tears quietly falling down her cheeks.
“I thought I lost you,” Wendy whispers.
“The fates said otherwise,” my mother replies softly. Wendy releases her and sits on the edge of the bed. I quietly slide into the chair that Christian vacated.
“How long have you been awake?” she asks.
“Since yesterday,” my mother replies.
“You sow, why didn’t you call me,” Wendy chastises.
“I… wasn’t ready,” my mother says. “Besides, there was this funny thing that happened with the car and… well, I don’t have a phone anymore.” Wendy shakes her head.
“Not funny, Carla,” she says. “You could’ve died.”
“Yeah, well, I lived,” my mother says, “I just can’t walk,” her voice cracks. Wendy rubs her arm.
“Who did you have? T-Mobile? Quest?” she asks.
“Sprint,” my mother says, pulling herself together a bit.
“We’ll get you another phone,” Wendy says, “something better than that old dinosaur you’ve been carrying around since the stone age.”
“I like my dinosaur,” my mother replies. “It’s easy to use and it does what I need it to do.”
“Well… my friend,” Wendy says with a heavy sigh, “you’re going to have a lot of time on your hands. You’re going to learn to use a new phone.” Mother drops her head and purses her lips, fighting what is most likely the millionth wave of tears today. Wendy covers my mother’s hands with her own.
“You know I’ve never been one to mince words, old girl,” Wendy says, sympathetically. “You’ve got me, you know,” she says. “I’ll move in if you need me to.”
“You just want to get out of that crappy apartment you live in,” my mother says with melancholy.
“That would be a bonus, yes,” Wendy laughs, then becomes serious again, “but you’re going to need me. You know you are.”
“Window…” Mother protests.
“Carla, you’re my best friend. This is going to be a long road with a lot of obstacles. Your daughter’s life is in Seattle, and you’re going to need someone around the clock. That’s going to be me. I’m going to make sure you get the hands-on care that you need and that no one is taking advantage of you.”
“You have your own life,” my mother says, “your job…”
“And this is what I’m trained to do, so I’ll just do it for you,” Wendy says.
“So, then we both won’t be working,” my mother says, lowering her voice to just above a whisper. “Money doesn’t grow on trees, Wen.”
“You’ve got savings and I’ve got savings, and there are many programs that help people like you—programs that will replace my income for being your full-time caregiver. We’ll exhaust every resource and we’ll manage,” Wendy says.
“Window, this is insane,” my mother says softly.
“Give it up, Morton,” Wendy says, squeezing her hand. “You’re stuck with me. I’m not going anywhere.” My mother breaks down in sobs again.
“So, when do they say you’re getting out of here?” Wendy asks. Just as the words are out of her mouth, Dr. Lee enters the room.
“I won’t ask how you’re feeling,” he says to my mother, “and I won’t try to minimize the seriousness of the situation by telling you how lucky you are, but Mrs. Morton, you’re very lucky.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” she says, waving him off.
“I thought Dr. Grey was here,” he says.
“I am,” I say, finally speaking up from my perch near the door.
“Oh! Anastasia! I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were there,” Wendy apologizes.
“It’s okay, Wendy,” I reply. “Thank you for getting here so quickly.” Dr. Lee takes a position where he can look at all of us. Luckily, Christian comes back into the room before he starts talking and stands next to me.
“Is it okay to discuss the situation with all parties present?” Dr. Lee says.
“Yes, it’s fine,” Carla says.
“Then, we’ll start from the beginning and go down the line. Hopefully, your breathing is easier than it was yesterday. Like I told you, that discomfort is going to be gone really soon if it isn’t already.
“The totality of your broken bones are your pelvis, your legs, your skull, and your neck. Your neck should be healed in about a month, but we’ll keep an eye on that. The bones in the legs should heal in a few weeks, but the pelvis is going to take longer. It could take up to three months to heal and we won’t be able to begin physical therapy until it’s healed. Your skull fracture will have to be monitored constantly because even though you’re not feeling any pain, it’s going to take the longest.
“And now for the elephant in the room,” he says solemnly. “You need to prepare for your paralysis to be permanent. I have personally never seen anyone recover the use of the bottom half of their body from this type of injury. It’s not impossible—anything is possible—but I’ve never seen or heard of it personally. The chances of gaining your ability to walk from this type of injury are exponentially miniscule. Though I’m not trying to be cruel, I’d rather give it to you straight than to fill you with false hope.”
“I appreciate your candor, Dr. Lee,” my mother says softly. “May I ask a question?”
“Anything,” Dr. Lee replies.
“Why go through physical therapy if I’m not going to be able to use my legs?” she asks. “And if it’s necessary, why wait until the very end if I can’t feel anything anyway?”
“You’re going to need physical therapy to get your life back to as close to normal as possible. Your upper body is going to have to compensate for some of the things that your legs can’t do anymore. Your entire life is going to change, not just your mobility, but also your recreational activities, how you think, even how you eat and defecate. There’s going to be a lot of work in your future, Mrs. Morton, and physical therapy is going to be vital.
“The reason we can’t begin too soon is because you can’t feel any pain, so you can’t tell us about your limits. We’re going to have to gauge your progress and limits sheerly through outside stimuli. That means that your bones must be completely healed before we begin.” My mother purses her lips and nods.
“Still think you don’t need me, old girl?” Wendy says. Dr. Lee looks at me, then back at my mother and Wendy.
“You’re going to be with us for a while,” he says, “so that we can monitor your progress and get you set up on specific schedules as needed. We’ll start getting some literature together so that you can begin to prepare for the changes that are going to take place in your life and your home, transportation, how you work…”
“I won’t be working anymore,” she interrupts. “I’m a caregiver. I can’t take care of anybody anymore, not even myself!”
“And for all of those people that you’ve taken care of, now it’s your turn,” Wendy says. Dr. Lee sighs.
“I know how hard this can be to digest,” he says. “I’m going to leave you now, but I’ll be back to discuss the next steps.” My mother nods without speaking and the doctor leaves the room.
“Dr. Lee,” I say after following him out of the room. “Some of the things you were talking about—transportation, using the restroom…”
“Everything she knows is going to change,” he says. “If she has even the slightest hope of regaining the use of her lower regions, there’s immeasurable work that she has to do, and like I said, I’ve never seen it happen. Her home is going to have to be fitted with all kinds of equipment to accommodate her disability, and she’s going to have to learn to use it. Everything that she has ever learned is most likely going to be relearned to fit her new lifestyle.”
“Her home will have to be fitted for her disability,” I say. “We’re not just talking about shower chairs here.” He folds his arms.
“Medical lifts, hospital beds, furniture created to accommodate her disability… depending on her home, she may have to do some serious construction or she may even have to move.”
She and Wendy can only possibly have a couple of hundred thousand saved between them. That won’t be nearly enough for everything she’s most likely going to need.
“Thank you, Dr. Lee,” I say. “If you could, I’d like to get as much information as you can put your hands on for what kind of changes are going to need to be made in her home. I’m sure she’d be more comfortable in her own home, having to recuperate and reacclimate as opposed to having to move to somewhere more accessible. I would like to weigh all of our options and see what needs to be done.” Dr. Lee nods and leaves.
I drop my head back and take a deep breath, filling my lungs to full capacity. I release the breath and let my shoulders fall, trying to release some of the tension that this short day has already dumped on me. When I open my eyes, the three nurses at the nurses’ station are examining me, but divert their gaze quickly when they see me looking at them. I pop my neck and go back into the room.
“It’s not going to happen, Window!” my mother says forcefully as I’m entering the room. “I won’t have you using your life savings for me. I’ll figure something else out.”
“You don’t have a choice,” Wendy says. “I don’t have any children and you’re my dearest friend, so this must be what I was saving for.”
“You were saving for your retirement!” my mother protests. “To relax and see the world, remember that? I’ll give in on your moving in with me, but I will not take your life savings. Like you said, there are programs and resources—we’ll figure it out, but I won’t take your money and that’s final!”
Oh, Jesus Christ, give me strength.
“You won’t have to,” I say, interrupting the exchange and looking at Christian. “Dr. Lee is going to give me information on what you’re going to need and how the house will need to be retrofitted. We’ll take care of it.”
I look at my husband, willing him to understand that this is not a request. He nods to me infinitesimally. When I turn to my mother, she’s completely pale.
“I…” she’s stumbling over her words. “I… you…” she closes her eyes and takes a breath, grimacing when she feels the pain in her chest and letting the breath out.
“I appreciate your help, but I am not asking for it,” she says, firmly. “I’m not even expecting it. Whatever you do, it’ll be because you want to. You heard Wendy. We will manage somehow if we have to. There are resources available that will get me what I need. We’ll exhaust them all. I’m not asking for anything…”
“Carla,” Christian interrupts, “we understand.”
All of her resolve leaves her when Christian speaks and she falls back onto the bed, sobbing. Neither Christian nor I know what to do for her right now, and neither of us really wants to comfort her. I gesture to Wendy that we’re leaving and she nods. We quietly leave the room and head for the elevators.
Not wanting to discuss this day or its implications any further at all, Chuck and I drop Christian back at the hotel to get some sleep and retrieve an excited Sophie to go and catch the Cirque de Soleil show, “O” at the Bellagio. Al said it was spectacular and I’ve wanted to see it ever since. We quickly get to our seats and the music begins.
The lights rise to give a view of the large circular stage with the big orange curtain surrounding it. Characters come from the stairs in the stand—men dressed in French costumes and powdered wigs, a scantily-clad organ grinder playing a street organ, and a ballerina. The ballerina has a “trainer” behind her cracking a whip and forcing her to walk down the stairs in the audience.
As she works her way through, an aerialist doing her twists and turns from a steel contraption that’s slowly being lowered from the ceiling captivates the audience, but not all of us. Some of us are following the spotlight on the ballerina, certain that she’s the real show and the aerialist may just be a distraction.
As the French men in costume scurry up and down the stairs to their various positions and the organ grinder keeps grinding, the ballerina finds one audience member who is entranced by the aerialist doing the spins—a plain-looking guy in a polo, jeans, and a baseball cap. She claps her hands to get his attention and, startled, he turns around and smiles at her.
She bows to him and he nods. She gestures for him to stand, and he declines. She impresses on him to stand again and he finally does, and off they go into the stands. They all congregate beneath the spinning aerialist who completes her act, then kisses and drops a large red scarf, which the guy catches. I’m immediately reminded of that show on the cruise in the — lounge where the actors all chose someone from the audience—myself included—to participate in the show.
During this time, we’re all looking at the characters and the aerialist in the stands and none of us notice that there’s a hand sticking out of the big orange curtain, pointing at the aerial contraption. The contraption begins to rise, and Baseball Cap Guy is silently directed to walk back down the stairs towards the cage. The closer he gets to the stage, the pushier the French guys become. They shove him up the stairs to the stage and scurry off, and it’s now that I begin to suspect that he’s part of the act.
The hand in the curtain beckons him—several times—to come closer. The entire time, he’s sporting this big, goofy grin, slowly approaching the beckoning hand. He offers the hand the scarf that he’s still carrying, and the hand swats it away. Instead, the hand points up, Baseball Cap Guy looks up, and the hand grabs his nose and drags him behind the curtain.
Yeah, he’s part of the show.
Next, some lanky Lurch-looking fellow in mime-face creepily spider-walks out of the curtains and examines the crowd. You can tell by his suit that he was the arm behind the curtain. He opens a small portion of the curtain and Baseball Cap Guy comes back out, holding his tweaked nose. He gestures to the edge of the stage, asking if he can leave now. Lurch-Mime instead hands him a piece of paper and puts a mic to his mouth—upside down.
Baseball Cap Guy begins to read, but of course you can’t hear him because the mic is upside down. Lurch-Mime—we shall call him our Master of Ceremonies—turns it around, and Baseball Cap Guy taps it three times to make sure that it’s on. Lurch-Mime MC taps the mic on Baseball Cap Guy’s head three times, eliciting a laugh from the audience.
Baseball Cap Guy reads the paper—with a heavy French accent—which basically says there will be harmless smoke effects, but no smoking is allowed, no flash pictures, and turn off your cell phones, after which he is snatched into the air up and into the curtains. The curtains are then drawn into the back of the stage somehow. Another set of the same curtains are drawn back from the floor to reveal the large pool that is the stage, and the show begins.
A beautiful combination of silent character acting, music, ballet, and synchronized swimming ensues, and then Baseball Cap Guy is back… hanging from a ladder over the pool. As he tries to climb, he falls into the water and disappears as the synchronized swimming continues.
The ballerina and the Frenchmen return as Baseball Cap Guy emerges in some sort of peasant-style jester-like outfit and watches the beautiful and amazing aerial and water aerobics before him. Although there’s a lot going on, the two women on the trapeze are stealing the show because their stunts are graceful and amazing!
The characters move effortlessly in and out of the water. I can only imagine the kind of breath control you must have to perform these dances and contortions, but to do this in the water, too? And showing no signs of breathlessness? It’s incredible!
The performers center stage are on a platform. They perform various contortions, dances, and flips, then they have to leap into the water, leap while they’re in there, and then leap back out. One of them just leapt out of the pool over the head of another performer and back into the water like a trick dolphin!
Next, there’s a cute skit where two dorks are floating on a house and trying to keep it from sinking, all in the name of trying to fall asleep while our MC hovers in the background.
Another beautiful aerial and water ballet ensues guided by our MC, the aerial acrobatic ballet taking place on what looks like the frame of a large ship. The acrobats force the ship to swing back and forth while they continue to perform amazing feats in the air as Baseball Cap Guy/Peasant Boy looks on…
And Sophie is mesmerized.
Probably to facilitate a wardrobe change, and maybe to give the other performers a chance to breathe, a male fan-dancer comes out and does a short solo skit as a platform closes over the pool, allowing for a fire dance. We watch as a hobo sits in a chair reading a newspaper, and the fire dancer systematically sets him on fire…
And he just sits there… until it’s his turn to perform.
Fire and all, he does a little skit, then carries his chair offstage while the fire show continues. He’s still on fire the entire time, as is his chair.
I thought I would die laughing when the two goofy sailors come back and pick people out of the audience to dance with and they both pick guys—not part of the show this time. They pull people out of the audience a lot. Some of them are planted and some are not. How do you know if they’re planted? If they get strapped to something or they end up in the water, you know they’re planted.
The pool returns for a portion of the fire show and the only person who appears to be showing any exertion getting out of the pool is Peasant Boy—and that appears to be deliberate. He and the MC keep popping up in various parts of the show as if to say, “don’t forget us!” However, whatever the scene, the MC always appears to get the girl. The ballerina from the beginning occasionally attempts to get the attention of the Peasant Boy and vice versa, and for an hour and a half, I watch the most amazing dancing, swinging, and aerial and water acrobatics show I’ve ever seen.
A/N: Pictures of places, cars, fashion, etc., can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/grey-continued-misadventuresseason-v/
Pictures from the trip to Las Vegas can be found at https://www.pinterest.com/ladeeceo/grey-continued-las-vegas/
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