He looked at his watch and realized, with satisfaction, that he was right exactly on time. It was only 6:50 AM and he'd have time to get home, get showered and get to the hospital for his morning rounds. He was also pleased, privately, that he'd see 'her' and get a chance to wave at 'her'.
He found, over a period of time, that he liked beginning so many of the days of his week this way.
The hospital had, across the road, a fine and flourishing rehab center. In the basement of the rehab building was a first class exercise facility.
Bob Raines, Dr. Bob Raines, surgery, liked to get to the facility and workout several times a week.
At least one of the reasons for his dedication was the heart attack that he'd already had some 19 years previous. That heart attack had come just before his little brother, Clark, always 'Butch' to him, had died of his second heart attack.
The one clear message that Bob Raines understood that came along with the grievous lost of his beloved 'Butch' was that he himself needed to take better care, to stop doing what many would call 'burning the candle at both ends' and get in shape.
He'd been at the exercising ever since, and, though he still missed 'Butch' a great deal, and, he knew, always would, until, he hoped, for some 'fulfillment' day, he was forever grateful that he'd been led to better ways of taking care of himself.
So, for Dr. Bob Raines, Dr. Bob, to all and sundry, it had been today a half hour with the weight machines and a half hour of cardio. It made him feel good, and he truly appreciated the opportunity to start so many of the days of his week this way.
As a matter of fact, his recent group of tests had again proven the worth of his exercise schedule. At 45 yrs, Bob Raines was in excellent health. He'd left his smoking habit behind over 25 years previously and lung tests detected no lasting damage at all.
After his heart attack, he'd had a quad by-pass and recent tests showed that the by-passes were still functioning well and were clear.
He noticed, as he went outside to his car, that it was raining that morning. Just then it started to rain just a little bit harder.
He drove up the street from the rehab building and took a left turn to get him over to that part of the city where he and his faithful companion, St. Gomer, his 'heinz 57 variety' dog had their home.
Bob Raines had bought a big house, once he was fully into his practice, after med school, in order to have his Mom and Pop live with him. It was a large white house, spread out in a lovely fashion over mainly one floor, with a master wing on one side and guest rooms, where his Mom and Dad had their rooms, on the other, with living room, dining room, kitchen and a general playroom kind of set up in between.
It worked out well for them for a number of years. But then his Dad had gotten sick, mainly from the many, many years of smoking that he'd done, which severely weakened his lungs. It seemed that his Dad, Art, just didn't have the strength to fight off the onset of pneumonia with side complications and the illness took him.
Bob devoted his succeeding years to taking care of his Mom, and they were a great pair. She passed, his lovely Annie, in her sleep one night, being there at bed time and gone in the morning. She'd told her Bobbie many times that she was always ready, and that she knew that Art would be waiting in that place where the Grace of God shines so brightly. She never let go of that thought and hope.
It was after they were both gone that Bob had gone to the shelter and adopted St. Gomer, and now they were the best of buddies.
He kept the big house, employing a cleaning woman, who came in weekly to make sure that everything was, in fact, ship shape for Dr. Bob.
She did the bed sheets and laundry for him. It was a good arrangement for him.
His only stop this morning was at the coffee bar in the hospital rehab building's bottom floor for a cappuccino. It was one of his really few indulgences.
OUT IN THE RAIN:
That morning, right on time, Georgia Wilson had gotten herself out and to the curb. She maneuvered her chair down the ramp and to the curb to wait for the bus to come and pick her up.
This was, for her, one of the bright spots in her day. She knew that that handsome man would drive by today and he always waved to her. Sometimes he blew the horn. It was a treat for her.
Georgia Wilson lived alone. She'd moved out of a very unhappy home, as soon as she could and got a job, and was taking care of herself.
Her future was, to a large extent, determined by a night out with the girls, which ended in an accident. One of the girls was killed outright, two were hurt badly and Georgia lost the use of her legs.
She continued to work and was fortunate in that the building could accommodate her chair. She'd gone into debt to purchase for herself the motorized chair and found a small apartment that was a first floor affair and laid out in such a way that she could get in and out and around well.
She'd gotten rehab lessons and practiced constantly, honing her skills at using the chair, getting into it and out of it, to bed, to the bathroom etc. By now, a number of years later, she was good at it.
She also worked constantly on her attitude. She was a lovely Afro-American woman and dealt with her 'poor me's' on an on-going basis, so as to not let herself dwell forever in the doldrums.
She had no family, having left all of that behind her in a different part of the country and was self-sufficient and satisfied.
Part of her attitude work was not letting herself dwell on what life did not have in store for her.
She was pretty; she was petite but she was crippled. She didn't date but was a good friend to various, especially, women from work.
There was a special handicapped bus that the city employed that took her, and people like her, to work daily. She made sure that she was out at the curb and waiting.
During the past half year, on a regular basis, he'd driven by, precisely at this time and at first it was a smile and then, constantly, he waved to her or blew the horn. It was as though they were the best of friends.
But today was, would be different. She got to the curb, and shortly after that it began to rain.
The rain was almost enough to distract her from waving at 'him', almost but not quite. She was also angry at herself for not sticking an umbrella in the side bag on her chair.
Bob Raines turned the corner and drove up the street just as it began to pour. It was then that he saw her, the lovely Afro-American woman, whom he called, to St. Gomer, 'his girl friend'. She was sitting in the rain in her chair.
He stopped immediately and pulled over. Getting his umbrella, a large 'golf' style one, he went down the slight hill to where she was sitting.
"No," he said as he approached her. "This won't do!"
"Hi!" he said brightly, as he stood and made sure that the umbrella was covering her.
It made her cry.
"Sorry," she mumbled but had leaned her head over and placed it against his side.
He took out a handkerchief and began to wipe the rain from her face. She smiled at him, and said: "This is so nice of you."
"Of course," he said, "We're pals; we see each other all the time."
"Yes, we do," she said.
"I'm going to leave the umbrella here for you," he said. "I'll collect it in a day or so."
"Oh, how nice," she said, and just looked at him.
He understood right away and said: "I'm Bob Raines."
"Hi, Bob Raines," she said.
"I work at the hospital," he went on, "It's Dr Bob Raines; on my way home now to clean up after a workout and get back to work."
She smiled: "A doctor making house calls."
"Yep!" he said. "You okay?"
"Yes, sorry to be crying like a fool out here," she said, "Forgot to stow my umbrella today."
"Oops!" he said, "But it was the doctor to the rescue."
He thought a moment and said: "Hey, I have a hot drink in the car; can I give you a sip? Might help."
"Why, thank you," she said with appreciation.
He went to his car, a good sized SUV and brought back a cup of cappuccino. He handed it to her and she took a drink.
"My, is that good!" she exclaimed.
He smiled. "It's a hazelnut cappuccino; a favorite of mine."
"Hm," she said, "I could get used to that."
He grinned at her and said: "Then please accept it as a gift from me."
She gave him a dazzling smile and said: "You are so nice, Dr Bob Raines!"
"At your service," he said.
Just then the special bus came for her.
"My ride," she said, and mentioned the name of the place where she worked. "I can give you back your umbrella."
"Best keep it," he said, "In case it's raining, when you come home."
"Oh, thank you," she said, another dazzling smile.
"Love your smile," he said and she beamed at him.
He watched her get loaded onto the bus and stood to wave her off, as the bus pulled away.
For himself, he was pleased about their meeting. He was pleased, of course, because she was, after all, out in the rain. But he knew that it was more than that. He'd seen her so often and over that time period had wanted more and more to get to know who she was
"Mission accomplished, old boy," he said. "Wait until the saint hears this news."
.... There is more of this story ...