"Henry. It's 2:30 in the morning. What are you doing up?"
"I needed some pain pills, so thought I'd make a cuppa to go with them. What's your excuse, Jean?"
"I got kicked out of bed. Your father is very restless. He needs meds, too, only he's too stubborn to take anything."
Henry got another cup down and made Jean a drink as well. Holding both cups in one hand, he walked across to the kitchen table and sat down.
"You know he won't even take a pannie for a migraine, let alone a headache. What makes you think he'll take anything now?"
"It's a bit different, darling. He's got breaks in his foot and lower leg, remember. That's got to be worse than a bloody headache."
"Leave it to me. I'll finish my tea and then go see if I can wake him and dose him up for you."
"Thanks, Luv. I really don't want to spend the night in the guestroom."
"Whyever not...It's about time you tried it out," Henry said, giggling into his teacup.
The drive trip home was good. Henry was a fantastic driver, although Terry would never let on to his son just how good he was. The army driving course he'd managed to get Henry into had paid dividends. Terry was in safe hands. Now all he needed to do was try to relax after the cold farewell from Dino and Louise.
Traffic wasn't too bad for the time of day and they were making good headway. Terry put some music on and tortured Henry by insisting on singing along, totally out of key. Henry loved these moments with his father. Terry had a fantastic baritone singing voice, but loved taking the rise out of his son, especially when a favourite tune came on the radio.
"Pull your neck in, dad," Henry joked.
Terry put on his best hurt expression, knowing Henry could see him out of the corner of his eye. He wouldn't take his eyes off the road when he was driving his dad.
The traffic was building up a bit in the inside lane, but still moving at quite a fast pace. Henry decided to overtake as there was a large truck just up in front. He got by with no bother, but then something happened. A car three vehicles in front of the truck braked suddenly, as did the car and smaller truck carrying scrap metal. The large container truck didn't brake in time, slamming into the back of the scrap truck, pushing it into the outside lane...right into the side of Terry's car. The impact was so great that it crumpled the passenger side and spun the car round. It hit the median, going in reverse, flipped over once, then bounced off a stationary car, ending up by the central median in front of the car that first braked hard. Although they were the first casualty, they escaped the carnage that ensued behind them. They were stopped when the cars began to pile up behind the container truck.
Henry dropped his cup and dashed to his father's bedroom. Terry was twisted up in the doona, awash in sweat. Henry sat on the bed by the side of him and gingerly placed a hand on Terry's shoulder.
"Dad. It's okay. I'm here, I'm safe."
Terry's eyes shot open and he stared straight ahead, a haunted look on his face.
Henry moved closer and put his good arm around his father's shoulder. "It's okay, Dad. It was just a dream."
Terry blinked and turned to look at his son. Relief flashed in his eyes before he pulled Henry towards him in a tight embrace.
"I thought...thought I'd lost you."
Henry lifted his father's face from his shoulder and was heartbroken to see the tears streaming down his face.
"I'm right here, Dad. You don't get rid of me that easy."
He continued hugging Terry as Jean looked on in tears. Henry looked over to her and mimed a drink. She nodded and went back to the kitchen.
Henry helped Terry get comfortable, putting extra pillows behind him to prop him up, then opened the nightstand drawer. He retrieved the bottle of medication and shook it in from of Terry's face.
"Dad, you have to take these. It's the pain that brought on the dream, I'm certain of it. Jean caught me in the kitchen taking mine just now."
Terry looked over at the clock and noted how early it was. "Why was Jeannie up at this time of night?"
"You kicked me out of bed, Lover," she replied, walking into the bedroom with a tray of steaming mugs. "You can drink another, can't you, Henry?"
"Too right," he replied, pulling a chair close to the bed and handing Jean the pills. "Can you open these please, Jean. I can't manage with this crook arm."
She took the bottle and read the label carefully, shaking out two green capsules and handing them to Henry.
"There ya go, Dad. Take these, if only to let Jean get back to bed without your tossing and turning driving her to the guestroom."
Terry looked across at Jean with regret on his face. She smiled and leaned over to kiss his cheek. He took the pills with a gulp of hot tea. They sat talking about nothing in particular to calm him down, and Jean managed to catch the cup as it slid out of Terry's hand. He'd fallen asleep.
Jean put the cup with the others on the tray and thanked Henry for his help, telling him to get to bed and rest his arm. She stopped him trying to take the tray out, telling him she would do it in the morning, then she snuggled up next to Terry, resting her arm across his chest to keep him safe.
A knock on the door a few hours later woke Jean up, and Henry popped his head around the door, waving a phone at her. She looked across at the bedroom extension, wondering why it hadn't rung.
"I turned it off so you could sleep," Henry grinned. "Do you want to talk to Uncle Dean?"
Jean slipped out of bed and walked out with Henry to the lounge room. She didn't want to wake Terry. Henry smiled at her standing in one of Terry's old t-shirts and a pair of sleep shorts. Who would think that someone as elegant in the office would look as cute as she did in the mornings.
She sat on the sofa and Henry gave her the phone before heading back to his room.
"Morning, beautiful. How's the man?"
"He had a bad night, Dean. You know how he is with medication. I got kicked out of bed in the early hours, then he had a bad dream about the crash."
"He's been in auto accidents before and they haven't affected him that way," Dino replied, worrying about his friend.
"This one was different though, wasn't it. Henry was there and driving. Terry must have been frantic not being in control of the car. I think he blames himself."
"What a load of crap! Is he sleeping right now?"
"Finally. Henry managed to get him to take his pain pills."
"Okay. Here's the plan. I'll come down right away."
"Dean, you've only just got back!"
"Who gives a stuff. I'm sorry that I could only stay a couple of days after the crash. I know I said I'd take care of things for Terry. I'm needed down there more than I'm needed here just now. They can cope without me, and know where I am if something big comes up."
"It wasn't your fault, Dean. You had a situation to sort out. You're an angel for coming back down."
"That's not what you were saying a while ago," Dino laughed down the phone. "Don't tell the big guy that I'm coming, okay?"
"All right, Dean. When can I expect you?"
"I'll get a plane arranged and leave within the hour. I'll be with you tomorrow, sweetie."
"Thank you, Dean. See you then."
Jean hung up the phone and hugged herself, letting the tears of relief flow. That's how Henry found her when he came back from his room.
"You okay, Jean?"
"Yes, Love. Dean is coming down."
"He'll be here tomorrow. He said not to tell your dad."
"Okie dokie. Even I can keep a secret for 24 hours."
Jean laughed. "You can keep a secret for longer than that. Remember how long you kept quiet about knowing your dad and I were seeing each other?"
"That was fun," he replied, kissing the top of her head. "Ready for brekkie?"
"And just what are you going to conjure up with one arm, young man?"
"Wheetbix!" he answered triumphantly, taking the box of cereal out of the cupboard.
"All right, smart arse. I'll go see if your dad is awake."
Terry was sitting on the side of the bed, arms on his thighs, his head hanging down.
"You okay, darling?"
He looked up and turned, smiling tiredly at her as she walked to the bed.
"Still rooted, Luv," he replied, taking her hand and pulling her down beside him for a cuddle.
"Are you up for brekkie? Henry has decided he's doing it today."
"Bloody hell. What are we getting?"
"Wheetbix, by all accounts. I think he's bringing it through here, so you can either get back into bed or we can eat on the balcony."
"Balcony," Terry replied, reaching for his crutches and allowing Jean to help him stand. He hobbled by the side of her through the large glass door and sat looking out across the harbour. "It's a beaut of a day already," he smiled.
Just then, Henry came through with drinks. "I thought this would keep you going while you wait."
"How long does it take to put cereal in a bowl, mate?" Terry grinned.
"You're feeling better this morning, and to answer your question...how long is a piece of string?" Henry laughed as he made a quick exit back into the kitchen.
They sat holding hands in a comfortable silence, looking at the sun sparkling on the green water of the harbour, then they heard a knock on the bedroom door. Terry shrugged at Jean, then watched her as she walked through to open it. She looked mighty fine in the morning sun.
Jean opened the door and stood there laughing. She pulled Henry in and took charge of the trolley he'd pushed from the kitchen. No wonder he'd been so long. The trolley was loaded with cereal, toast and a full cooked breakfast for three.
"How'd ya manage all that, mate?"
"Easy, dad. I took my sling off!"
"Is that wise, Henry?" Jean asked.
"It feels okay, Jean. I promise I'll put it back on after I shower."
They all enjoyed their first meal of the day, and Terry even managed to limp into the kitchen when they'd finished and help Jean load up the dish washer.
Jean took him back to their room and put the splint cover on to allow him to shower. This was the best part of his routine since getting home from the hospital as Jean insisted on getting in the shower with him to help him. It took a long time as her 'help' wasn't all with him getting washed!
Terry was fast asleep on the sofa, his head resting comfortably in Jean's lap. Henry was chatting away to her when the doorbell rang. He hopped up and went out to see who was there. He came back in smiling, followed by Tim and Lou.
"G'Day, Jean. How's the Big Guy?"
"Hi, Tim, Lou. He's finally behaving himself and taking his meds. Trouble is they make him sleep and he hates that."
The couple sat down next to Henry and looked over at their sleeping friend. He looked very peaceful and the pain lines were gone from his face.
"Well, we were thinking that after a few days in the hozzie, Terry will be wanting a decent meal...not that you can't cook, Jean. You all deserve to be pampered a bit. So, as it's a bit soon for T to be trying to get out and about, we thought we'd get a take-out a bit later...from the restaurant."
"Oh, Tim, that would be great. Hopefully sleeping beauty will be awake before too long."
"No worries, Jean. It's still a bit early to eat yet. We'll just hang around and keep you both company if you like."
"That would be nice, Tim," Henry said, heading for the kitchen.
"Sit down, Luv. I'll put the kettle on," Lou said, leading Henry back to the sofa.
"Ta, Lou," he replied, smiling up at her.
The next few hours flew by, and the friends laughed and joked together. Terry slept through it all.
"Okie dokie, I'm gonna call the restaurant and get them to start our meal. With any luck, Rumpelstiltskin will wake up to the wonderful aromas that will shortly be wafted in front of his face."
Just then the security phone rang and Henry went to the door to pick it up. He smiled as he listened to the security man and told him it was fine to let the visitor up. He opened the door and stepped outside to wait for the lift to arrive.
"Look who I found lurking around outside," Henry grinned as he came back into the lounge-room, closely followed by a tired-looking Dino.
"Evening, people," he grinned, walking over to kiss Jean and hug the others. He looked down at the still-sleeping Terry and and winked at Jean. Leaning over his friend, he kissed his forehead and whispered in his ear, "Hey, Honey...I'm home."
He squatted in front of the sofa and waited. Terry moaned softly and murmured. He opened his eyes slowly and looked right into the pale blue eyes of his friend and partner. "Dino?"
"Hey, Ter. How ya feeling?"
"What are you doing here?"
"Well, my friend, I heard that you were being treated to a gourmet take-out, so just had to fly down and join you."
Terry looked up into Jean's smiling face in confusion, then turned his head to see Tim and Lou on the sofa opposite him. They wiggled their fingers at him in welcome and Tim took out his cell phone to call in the dinner order.
Dino helped Terry sit up and get comfortable, his broken leg now resting on a thick cushion atop of the coffee table, and before too long they were all enjoying the best that Tim's chef could offer.
"Terry, the police are on their way up," Jean said, replacing the handset of the security phone.
"Bugger! That's all I need," Terry groaned, sitting up a bit on the sofa.
The two officers didn't stay very long. It was really just a courtesy call. They could have phoned, but as Terry was known and well like at the station they decided to pop in and see how he was doing. Dino was coming in the door just as they were leaving. They nodded to him as they went out.
"They popped round to let Terry know the car has been released and we can now get the insurance onto it."
"Let me do that. Ter. You don't need to bother yourself."
"Ta, mate. Appreciate it."
Dino spent the next couple of hours on the phone in Terry's study. When they next saw him, he was putting his coat on and heading for the door.
"Where ya going, mate?" Terry asked.
"Off to the pound to meet up with the insurance guy."
"Wow, I'm impressed, Uncle Dean," Henry remarked. "They usually like to drag their feet with claims."
"Not when I'm in town, Henry. I'll be back shortly."
Dino walked slowly round the the wreck, shaking his head in amazement. How Terry got out of there with as little damage to himself as he did was just a miracle. He looked over at the insurance assessor, who knew and liked Terry. The man had no colour in his face at all.
"Hey, he's fine, really."
"How did he get out of that in one piece?"
"Well, my friend, he's not exactly in one piece. Broken cheek, badly cut shoulder and a broken leg and foot."
"Amazing! I see they didn't need to cut the top off."
"No, it seems they were able to pry the door open and just cut around where his leg was trapped. So, what you think?"
"No need to tell you it's a write-off. Is it okay to pick up the paperwork from your office?"
"No need. I stopped by on the way over. We can go straight back to yours and sort things out."
They went back to the insurance building and the claim was settled right then. Dino smiled, wondering how long they usually took over a claim. They were good customers, and everything that needed insurance for the business was done with the one insurer, so they knew better than to keep them hanging about any claim.
The apartment door burst open and Dino came in grinning like a Cheshire Cat, and waving a cheque in his hand.
"Look what I've got!" he winked.
"Bloody hell, Dino. How'd ya manage that?"
"I'd love to say it's my boyish charm, but I think us being one of their biggest customers may have something to do with it, especially after I just happened to mention that their competition had recently sent us a favourable proposal."
"And when did that happen, Mr. Financial Director?" Jean asked.
Dino just grinned and handed her the cheque. She looked at it and gasped before handing it across to Terry.
"But...that's what I paid for it. What about depreciation?"
"Perhaps they decided that we look after our vehicles better than the showroom does," Dino replied innocently.
"I'll get it put in the business account right away," Jean said.
"No need, Jean. I'm off out again. I just wanted to let you know what a great CFO you have before I deposit it. I'll bring some food back with me."
He was gone as fast as he arrived, leaving Terry and Jean staring at the door in wonder.
Terry was given the all clear to be out and about a bit, and was actually smiling when they left the hospital. They all piled into the jag and Dino headed out towards Watson Bay for lunch.
"We have to be back by three, if that's okay with you."
They all tried hard to get some information out of him, but his lips were firmly sealed.
"God, I hate you when you're like this. Nothing worse than a smug Leprechaun," Terry griped good naturedly over his meal. Dino just grinned and carried on eating.
They arrived back at the apartment building just before three and Dino drove down to the underground parking area. Terry was dozing in the back seat after his large lunch but he woke when he heard Henry.
"WOW!" his son exclaimed.
"What's up, Henry?" Terry asked, sitting up a bit straighter in the back. Henry just pointed.
In the space where the BMW used to sit was a sparkling new vehicle, with a smiling man standing next to it.
Henry got out and rushed round the car to help Terry up. Getting comfortable on his crutches, he limped over to the new car and turned to the smiling man.
"G'Day. You are?"
"Good afternoon. Mr. Thorne. I'm Simon Peters from the Jaguar dealership, and this is your new vehicle."
He stood back and pointed towards the sparkling red Jag, still smiling broadly. Terry just stood there, resting on his crutches. He looked at the car, looked at Simon, and then looked over to where Dino had his arm round Jean's shoulder.
"What ya think, Ter. Good replacement?"
"I don't understand. I thought you said you were getting a like for like replacement."
"I was, then I thought maybe Henry wouldn't feel comfortable driving the same car, and I know that you've banned him from going anywhere near the other Jag...so..."
"What! you mean I'm going to be able to drive this?" Henry asked, running his now plasterless arm over the roof.
"You're on the insurance, Henry, so all you need to do is negotiate with your dad...but remember, he's the best in the business," Dino smiled as Simon handed him the keys and he helped Terry into the from passenger seat as Henry and Jean got into the back. "Shall we?" he winked, waving at Simon as he roared out into the Sydney afternoon sunshine.
ON TO WALKING TALL
BACK TO CHAPTER 4
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