Spearfish Lake Tales
Contemporary Mainstream Books and Serials Online
Once again it was late when they got to Winchester Harbor, but they’d called ahead and Jake was waiting up for them. At least there they didn’t have to be careful about what they said. They couldn’t stay up late– both of them were tired, Amanda had school the next day, and Jake and Rachel had fishing parties to take out. They gave them a thumbnail description of the situation, including Mary’s pregnancy and the fact that they were planning on wintering over in Blanche Tickle again, and decided to let the story telling go for another day.
The next day they went out in the Chinook again. It felt good to be out on the water, even though they’d only been away from the Mary Sue for a few days. That evening they sat down in Jake and Rachel’s living room and went over the whole story.
“Matt, I’m real sorry that your mother is being that big a pain in the ass,” Jake told him. “I have to say that I’m just as happy that things worked out for me the way they did, but thinking back a good many years I can remember times your mother has done something that wasn’t very rational. She did things without seeing the consequences. I realize this deal is an immense pain in the ass for you, but don’t ever doubt that I’ll do what I can to help out. But it’s your father who’s going to have to be the insulation between you and her, and about all I can do is help where I can. Just remember that there may not be much I can do about that issue.”
“I realize that,” Matt said. “But at least it’s nice to know that I can come to you and not have to worry about it.”
“Do what you have to do,” Jake told him. “That’s about all I can tell you, and I’ll back you up however I can. And let your Dad know that I’ll do what I can to help, if there’s anything I can do. But let’s get off that subject since I think it’s bringing us all down. You mentioned that you’re going to look for a bigger boat for your next journey.”
“Well, yeah, but I don’t plan on being in any big hurry about it,” Matt told him. “I think we need to wait till the baby is born before we make any decisions.”
“Probably not a bad idea,” Jake smiled. “But don’t just give the Mary Sue away in the process. I mean, if you can get a good deal on it, fine. If you can’t, give me a call.”
“You think you want it?” Matt said, a little surprised at the words.
“I don’t know,” Jake replied. “Remember, Rachel and I have a little sentimental feeling toward the boat.”
“And I wouldn’t mind sailing it somewhere, too,” Amanda grinned. “I mean, I know I’ve got a few years before I could do it, but you guys got me hooked last summer.”
“Well, no promises, but we’ll keep it in mind. I mean, I don’t know what I’m going to turn up and I’m not really going to be looking, anyway. But stuff can fall in your lap, you know that.”
“Like the Mary Sue fell in yours,” Jake agreed. “Like I said, no promises, but don’t just give it away without giving me a call.”
“It’s like this,” Matt told Mary while the two of them were discussing things afterwards. “I think it’s probably best if we didn’t get married right now. I still want to do it soon, but if we do it while we’re up here and don’t invite Mom, she’s really going to be upset.”
“Aye,” Mary agreed. “An’ that’s not even considerin’ what she’d say if your dad or other relatives were there an’ she wasn’t.”
“My thinking exactly. It’s not going to solve any problems, but might at least keep them toned down if we don’t announce we’re married for a while. After all, I don’t think getting married is going to change a thing between us, but it’s a legal backstop for you and the baby if something should happen to me.”
“I can see your point,” she said, thinking of Matt’s concerns with the possibility of the leukemia returning at any time. “But for me, I don’t see any rush ta be wed.”
“True, but with that thought in mind, maybe we’d ought to do it in the States, just to minimize possible legal troubles if something should happen. So what I’m thinking now is that we might as well head back to the Mary Sue. We’ve got what? Three months before your house is available again?”
“Aye, somethin’ like that. I’d have ta call Sinead to be sure, but that Yank artist fella ought ta be outa there by the end of August.”
“That seems to fit about right to me. What would you say if we spend a few weeks messing around in the Bahamas, then spend till the first part of September working our way up the East Coast? If we want to hang around a place, we can. If we want to move on, we can. A lot of the run is on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. I’m told some parts of it might be a little shallow, but there’s no reason we can’t run outside if we feel like it, and somewhere along the way we could find a place to have a quiet wedding in front of a judge.”
“If we get a little ahead of schedule, we could do some cruisin’ around Newfoundland, too,” she pointed out. “Though I’m thinkin’ that by the time that Yank fella leaves the house it’ll be gettin’ ta be time ta bein’ on shore an’ gettin’ ready to have the baby.”
“You’d know more about it than I would,” he said thoughtfully. “Maybe we’d better spend a little time and money on fixing up the house. I mean, the outdoor biffy is all right in a way, but I don’t know how bad we’d want to deal with it when we have a new baby.”
“Might not be as easy as all that. There’s somethin’ about not havin’ the right ground to put in an inside toilet. That’s why I don’t think there’s any in Blanche Tickle. But it’s not a worry. Women have been havin’ babies in Blanche Tickle for hundreds of years without one. Maybe ye could spend some time this fall travelin’ around lookin’ for a bigger boat.”
“Maybe we ought to spend the summer thinking about maybe putting it off for a year, too. A new baby and fitting out a new boat strikes me as maybe more work than we really want to be doing this fall.”
“Might be, might not be. The right boat might not be that much of a problem. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Two days later, after meeting with Adam’s lawyer and another one to discuss getting married and other issues, they were back aboard the Mary Sue. Now, more than ever, as much as they liked the boat, it seemed to be too small and cramped for them, but they’d lived with it for quite a while and decided they could manage it for a few more months. They didn’t come to the agreement all at once, but decided over a period of time to hold down on long offshore passages, which would mean they wouldn’t have to have as much aboard, giving them a little more room.
They spent three weeks loafing around in the northern Bahamas, visiting with other cruisers and seeing new sights. By now it was getting to be high summer, and with the summer sun and heat getting to them they thought they ought to be moving on; possibly it would be cooler to the north.
With a good weather forecast for the next few days, they decided to take advantage of the Gulf Stream and favoring winds, and make a long jump northward to Beaufort, North Carolina. It seemed to be about as far as they wanted to go in one burst, about six hundred miles. The current and the elements favored them; they made the trip in five and a half days of enjoyable sailing.
They took a couple days to rest up and get their land legs under them again, and while they were there they made a brief trip to the offices involved and got married. It was a totally unremarkable wedding, just a few minutes in front of a judge, mostly for the sake of making legal something that had been between them for a long time.
Now man and wife– and not overly concerned about it– they got going the next day, heading north inside along the Intracoastal, now pushing a little harder than they had before, but managing to make a few interesting stops along the way. By the first part of August they’d reached New York City, and had an interesting day sailing across the harbor, up the East River, and through Hell Gate into Long Island Sound.
Mary was now close to six months pregnant, probably short of it by a few days, but that wasn’t certain; in any case, she was showing it, although it didn’t seem to affect her very much. But perhaps it altered both their perceptions a little; as they sailed up Long Island Sound on a weekend among hundreds of boats and boaters of every description, both of them felt a little lassitude. In any case, partway up Long Island Sound, Matt admitted to not feeling very well, mostly chills, fever, and generally feeling sick, especially in his gut. Neither of them really wanted to bring up the obvious, but as they were in Buzzard’s Bay, Mary felt like the time had come to raise the question: “Matt, d’ye think the leukemia might be comin’ back?”
“I don’t think so,” he told her. “I didn’t feel like this the last time I came down with it, and the white blood cell count was high but not out of line the last time I was tested.”
“That’s gettin’ ta be a while back,” she observed.
“Yeah, might be,” he said. “Look, let’s get through the Cape Cod Canal, then find a place to tie up. Maybe I’d better have it checked again. Better to be safe than sorry.”
Mary wasn’t quite sure she agreed with him but had to concede that he was the one who knew what he was talking about. Still, now that the question was out on the table, she couldn’t help but worry about her husband.
Perhaps it was just the psychological aspect of having it out in the open, but Matt seemed to be feeling even worse as they approached the end of the canal. It was about all he could do to steer the boat so Mary could drop the sails for their trip through the canal, which had to be done under motor power. “Matt, I’m not likin’ this,” she told him after they passed through. “I’m thinking maybe we’d better find a place ta put in, ’cause I think ye really need ta see a doctor.”
“Yeah, Mary,” he said, obviously weak now. “You’re probably right.”
A quick look at the chart revealed that the next good place to stop would be Plymouth, perhaps ten miles up the coast. By the time they got there, it seemed to Mary that Matt was even worse. Fortunately, there was a slip open in a marina there, and as soon as she tied up the boat she decided it wouldn’t be out of line to call an ambulance. Fearing that a hospital stay was in the works for Matt, and that at best they’d be away from the Mary Sue for a while, she quickly stuffed clothes and a few things for both of them in a seabag. She had the boat locked up for a long stay by the time the ambulance got there.
What followed was a horror for both of them. They were first taken to a small hospital’s emergency room. By the time they got there, Matt was feeling worse, in even more pain, and was hardly lucid. He wasn’t able to give the doctors much in the way of details, but Mary was able to tell them about Matt’s history with leukemia. A quick blood test revealed a lot of white cells in his blood, some immature.
“I can tell you right now,” a doctor told her. “This is out of our league. We need to transfer him to a place that can handle this.”
“Aye,” Mary replied, feeling that the worst she’d hoped would never happen was about to happen. “Ye’d better be doin’ it, then.”
There was another ambulance ride to a very big and well-known hospital where he was admitted. All Mary could do was to sit in a waiting room and worry, trying to figure out what to do next and not having much in the way of ideas.
It was a Japanese-American doctor, Dr. Sumitono, who brought her the bad news. “There’s no question it’s leukemia,” he told her. “And among other things, his liver function is giving out. I’m afraid I can’t hold out a lot of hope. He’s got a few days, but . . . ”
“Aye,” Mary nodded. “I was fearin’ that’s what ye were goin’ ta tell me.”
Mary was dreading what would come next. Even with being pregnant with Matt’s baby, the reality that sooner or later their life together could be cut short had always been with her, and she felt she could handle it. But Matt’s parents deserved to know, which meant his mother, as well. There was no avoiding it.
It only took a few minutes to get hold of Adam at his office. “Hi, Mary,” he said. “What’s happening?”
“There ain’t no nice way ta say it,” she told him. “Matt’s leukemia is back, and this time he’s not goin’ ta make it. The doctor I just talked ta said he’s got a few days at best.”
“Oh, God!” Adam sighed, “I was afraid this was going to be happening sooner or later. Are you doing all right?”
“As well as can be expected,” she told him. “I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know it could happen.”
“Well, yeah, me too. I’d had hopes, but I guess they were just hopes. Where are you?”
“In Boston,” she told him, explaining in a little more detail, and adding. “I’ve been all night and most of the day just findin’ that out.”
“Mary, I hate to say this, but I need to say goodbye to him, and his mother will, too.”
“Been expectin’ that, an’ it wouldn’t be right to keep her away, not now. Ye haven’t told her I’m pregnant yet, have ye?”
“No, I’m afraid that would really set her off. I guess now I don’t get any choice.”
“Maybe ye should let me be the one ta tell her,” she suggested. “At least that way she can’t blame ye for not tellin’ her.”
“Good idea. We’ll be there as soon as we can get a plane. Mary, hang in there. This isn’t going to be pretty, and I’m sure Brittany is going to make it worse than it needs to be.”
“I ’spect you’re right, but I also think we need to put up with it. She is his mother, ye know.”
“Yeah, you’re right, Mary. Do you want me to call Jake and give him the bad news?”
“Naw, I better do that,” she sighed. “It’ll at least give me somethin’ ta do.”
It was a little harder to get hold of Jake; he was out on a fishing charter and she couldn’t talk to him until evening. Later, after some discussion with him, he decided that he’d better come to Boston as well, if for no more reason than to try to help out with Matt’s mother, not that he expected he could do very much.
It was the next morning before Adam, Brittany, and Jake showed up– they hadn’t been able to get a plane out of Detroit the night before, so they all wound up on the first available plane in the morning. Matt’s mother, not unexpectedly, was inconsolable and just about out of her mind with anxiety. “We’ve got to get him out of here,” she insisted. “We need to get him back to University of Michigan hospital where they know what they’re doing!”
Dr. Sumitono didn’t think too much of the idea. “This is one of the best hospitals in the world for treating this,” he told her. “And there’s not much anyone can do. He’s got a few days at best, here, there, or anywhere. Moving him will probably just speed up the process.”
“But he’s my baby!” she insisted. “I can’t just let him die! At least if he’s at home I’ll know that he’s getting good care. I can’t just let him die!”
It was a long time before Brittany wound down enough to realize she wasn’t making any headway. “Look,” Dr. Sumitono told her, “all the agitation here isn’t helping him. Why don’t you step outside and give him a few minutes to rest?”
“But I don’t want to leave my baby!” she said. “I need to get him to Ann Arbor. Adam, can’t you convince them of that?”
“I think Dr. Sumitono is probably right,” Adam said reasonably. “Come on, Brittany, we’ve known for years this could happen.”
“I don’t care!” Brittany protested. “I want him in University Hospital as soon as we can get him there. I’m his mother, after all.”
“I’m afraid his wife might have something to say about that,” Dr. Sumitono pointed out. “After all, she’s the next of kin and responsible for him.”
“His wife?” Brittany exploded. “Matt isn’t married. How could he have gotten married?”
“By a judge down in Beaufort, North Carolina,” Mary told her. “Back in the spring.”
“My God! He married you? Whatever made him think he could do that?”
“He was old enough ta make up his own mind,” Mary replied. “Just like he was old enough ta make up his own mind ta go sailin’. Dr. Sumitono, I think it’d be best if Matt were ta stay right here, an’ maybe get ta die in peace.”
“Well, I never heard of such a thing! Married! We’ll just have to see about this.”
Dr. Sumitono shook his head. “I really think you all need to give Matt a rest. I’m going to restrict visiting to fifteen minutes an hour, except for his wife. We need to give him a break or things are going to just be worse for him. Now, why don’t you all go outside in the lounge down the hall and give him a chance to rest. If you’re going to fight, fight about it down there.”
“But I’m his mother!” Brittany protested. “I deserve to be with him.”
“Not if you can’t keep your temper under control,” Dr. Sumitono told her forcefully. “If you can’t keep yourself under control I’m afraid I’ll have to get a security guard up here to enforce it. Now, out, all of you.”
“Come on, Brittany,” Jake told her. “He’s right. We can’t settle this here, and it’s just putting more stress on Matt.”
“But I don’t want to go,” she cried as both Jake and Adam led her outside the room. “I’m his mother. He needs me!”
Mary and Dr. Sumitono stayed behind. “Sorry about that, Matt,” she told him. “But we had ta let her come.”
“I know,” he said weakly. “But try to keep her away from me as much as you can.”
“We’ll try,” Mary told him. “We’re not goin’ ta be able ta keep her away all the time, but maybe it won’t be too much.”
“I really hate to say this,” Dr. Sumitono said, “But I think she needs a tranquilizer, maybe even a sedative. She’s, well, not handling it very well. I don’t want to have to ban her from seeing him, but she’s not helping matters a bit.”
“’Preciate the help,” Mary told him. “I knew when I called her it wasn’t gonna be easy. An’ I’m afraid there’s gonna be worse to come.” She turned to Matt and said, “I guess I better go face the music. See ye in a bit.”
“Thank God I found you Mary,” he said. “I don’t know how I’d do this without you.”
“Aw, ye’d manage b’y,” she told him. “I better go now.”
Jake was waiting for her outside the door. “Boy, I hate to see him have to go through that,” he said. “She was a pain in the ass when he was in the hospital the first time, but nothing like this bad.”
“I just wish there was somethin’ we could do.”
“It may come down to a security guard. Look, there’s something Adam asked me to do because he was afraid Brittany would be watching him too closely.”
“Do you know if Matt has signed a will?”
“Far as I know, no,” she shrugged.
“That’s what Adam thought. He had a lawyer draw one up for him last spring. I have a copy of it Matt should sign. I’ve glanced over it, and it says that everything goes to you. It needs to be signed in front of witnesses. I suppose I could be one, and that doctor could be the other one. Adam says you need that legal protection or maybe Brittany could come back on you.”
“I suppose,” she sighed. “It’s kinda admittin’ the truth, but I guess we’ve got ta do that.”
“OK, that means that we’re going to have to rig it around some way to get at least Adam, you and maybe me into the room with the doctor without Brittany being involved. I don’t know how we’re going to manage that but it needs to be pretty soon, I think.”
“That ain’t gonna be easy.”
“No, but it pretty well has to be done. We’ll just have to look for a chance. I suppose we’d better go down and watch some more of Brittany’s drama.”
When they got down to the lounge they found Brittany there, and hysterical. Adam was doing his best to console her, and there were a couple nurses around, with looks of concern on their faces. “She’s raising an awful scene,” one of them said. “The noise is not helping the other patients.”
“Dr. Sumitono said she needed a sedative,” Mary commented. “Maybe you ought to go hunt him up to get him to prescribe one.”
“That might not be a bad idea,” one of the nurses said. “At least we’d get a little peace and quiet.”
Brittany didn’t settle down much in the next few minutes. Mary thought it had some good points; Brittany was so wrought up she apparently didn’t notice Mary’s pregnancy, not that it was extremely obvious due to the loose shirt she happened to be wearing. If and when she figured that out, things were likely to be considerably worse.
Dr. Sumitono showed up in a few minutes. It took a while longer for the staff to get organized to give Brittany an injection, but she hardly noticed it. Whatever it was, it was strong; in only a few minutes Brittany was lethargic, hardly aware of her surroundings, slumped in a comfortable chair. “Maybe she’ll be able to be a little more rational when she comes out of it,” Adam commented. “But knowing her, I doubt it.”
“This might be our chance,” Jake said. “Dr. Sumitono, would it be all right if the rest of us talked to Matt for a few minutes? We’ll need you there, too.”
“I suppose,” he said, turning to one of the nurses. “Keep an eye on her if you would. I don’t think we’re going to be long.”
Adam pulled an envelope from the pocket of his suit coat, and handed the draft will to Mary She glanced it over quickly, and though she was no lawyer it was clear what the meaning was. “Look all right to you?” he asked.
“I guess,” she sighed. “Let’s get this done.”
Matt was awake when they got back to the room, and reasonably alert. “All right,” Adam told him. “We’ve got a few minutes at least without your mother interrupting things.” He explained that he’d had a lawyer draw up a will that would leave his possessions to Mary, to try to keep his mother from interfering. Mary and Jake both said they’d looked the will over and that it looked all right to them.”
“I guess,” Matt said. “It’s about all I can do for Mary and the baby, so I’d better do it.” His father handed him a pen, and he signed it in shaky handwriting; Jake and Dr. Sumitono witnessed the signing.
“All right, there’s that taken care of,” Jake said. “Anything else?”
They watched as Matt took a deep breath, reaching for words before he managed to say. “Please, get me out of here. I don’t want to die in a damn hospital.”