"The characters were very well written and the story's Christian influence gives the reader a sense of hope and inspiration. A very enjoyable read."
Copyright 2018 Jo Huddleston
Santa Ana, California, September 24, 1956
Mary Ann Williams walked ahead of Betty Campbell through the halls of the Santa Ana Community Hospital. "Greg has a bullet in his shoulder. He's lost a lot of blood and is almost unconscious. So...what's your excuse, Betty?"
Betty hurried to match Mary Ann’s lengthy stride. “What’s my excuse?”
“Yes, they just rushed Greg to surgery, and now you tell me he proposed in the ambulance, and you said yes! What’s wrong with you?”
Betty plopped onto the green vinyl-covered sofa in the empty waiting room and cast a defensive gaze at her roommate. “Nothing’s wrong. I expected you’d be happy for me.”
“Be happy for you?” Mary Ann asked. “Since y’all met two weeks ago at Donna and Tommy’s wedding, you’ve been fighting non-stop. Putting you two together is like trying to mix water and Wesson cooking oil. Complete opposites! All weekend you’ve refused to speak to Greg and me since we had dinner together Friday evening while you had to work late. And now you’re going to marry him.”
“You just don’t understand because you’ve never been in love.”
“You’re right about that. Love has sure made you do some crazy things—I’m not sure I want to ever be in love.”
They looked up when Donna and Tommy Crowley rushed into the waiting room. “We got here as soon as I could leave work and pick up Donna,” Tommy said.
“How’s Greg?” Donna asked about her brother.
“He’s in surgery,” Betty said, standing and hugging Donna. “The doctor wants to get the bullet out of him. He’s lost a lot of blood, and it ran down over the cast on his wrist from his car accident during the recent Santa Ana winds.”
The three girls sat on the sofa while Tommy walked to the coffee urn on the counter behind the Pink Lady’s desk. He looked back at the girls and said, “Y’all want a cup?”
When they each shook their head, Tommy rejoined them with his coffee and sat in a nearby chair. “Mary Ann, when you phoned me, you said something awful had happened at your office, and you’d give me the details later.”
Mary Ann took a deep breath and dove into her explanation. “Friday night, Betty’s boss had her stay late at the office. She and Greg had a date for dinner, and when he came to pick her up, I told him she was still at work. He already had reservations and didn’t want to eat alone, so he asked me to go with him, and I did. When Betty found out we had dinner together, she got mad at both of us and wouldn’t speak to Greg.”
“Okay, but what’s that got to do with today and Greg being in the hospital?”
“Oh, well, I suggested to Greg he stay away over the weekend and come by the office today on his lunch hour. I assumed by then Betty would be over her mad spell. Anyway, two guys tried to rob the office around noon, and Greg arrived in the middle of it. When he tried to talk some sense into the robbers, one of them shot Greg, and then later Greg tackled the robber just as the police got there.”
“And y’all considered the gas company office a peaceful place to work,” Tommy said.
“Does the doctor think Greg will be okay?” Donna asked.
“Yes, after they get the bullet out of his arm,” Mary Ann said.
“Betty, you’re mighty quiet. You okay?” Tommy asked.
“Yes, I’m all right. I rode in the ambulance with Greg.”
“She thinks Greg proposed marriage in the ambulance,” Mary Ann said.
Betty stood and stamped her foot on the tiled floor. “Greg did ask me to marry him on the way here in the ambulance. And I said yes!”
“Greg was so out of it, he probably won’t remember anything either of you said inside the ambulance,” Mary Ann said.
Donna went to Betty. “You’re upset. We all are. Sit back on the sofa. We’ll learn more when the doctor finishes Greg’s surgery.”
During the next two hours, they each took turns pacing the floor. Tommy found a Coke vending machine and brought each of the girls a bottle. They waited in silence when an exhausted doctor entered the waiting room…
The doctor looked their way and said, “The Greg Turner family?”
They stood, and Tommy answered for them, “Yes, sir.”
© 2018 Jo Huddleston, All Rights Reserved