AT THE MALL:
A trip to the mall, in fact two trips to the mall: two small groups of people, a pair walking together and a single man, two purposes for the shopping, all very normal with no other intentions.
Two of them were walking hand in hand. It was a grandmother and her lovely granddaughter. They were talking animatedly and giggling with one another. They had that kind of relationship. It had certainly solidified over the past half year, the bad half year, the tragic half year, the half year when the Grandmother saw the death and burial of her only daughter and her husband, and the little girl saw the death and burial of her mother and father. They dealt with it together; it had always been that way with them. The two of them together. Little Amalia Weston was, in many ways, grandma Katie's girl.
So that, when tragedy came stalking, and they emerged from the fog of the suddenness of the death of Jennie and Ben, they faced all of it together.
It was also their mutual decision that the small town, where they were living, at Grandma's house, had too many 'ghosts' for them. It was then that they decided on the move. And it was also a mutual decision that 'the move' would be an adventure in living for them. That's the way that they took it, looked at it. That's why this trip to the mall was such a lark for the two of them.
Amalia was excited about the move. Her grandma Katie, Katherine Gifford, had assured her that the stay at the motel would only be a temporary thing for them. They were going to go apartment hunting, apartment hunting at least, that very afternoon. While they were at the mall, they even took time to look over some ads.
They'd made a decision, mutual also, to look at apartments first and then deal with furniture that was stored and seek out a house after that.
Grandma Katie, 'the great lawyer', as Amalia usually referred to her, seemed to know what they were doing.
So, this was a lark for them. They were holding hands, giggling and carrying their few purchases. They'd had lunch and were in great moods.
(At this stage in their lives, Amalia was a blossoming and lovely 8 year old; she was sensible and emotional and totally devoted to her lovely Grandma Katie. It had been Grandma Katie who'd seen her through the terrible times after the accident and death of her Mom and Dad. Now they were going to live in a new place and have a new life. It was finally exciting for little Amalia Weston.
Grandma Katie was a tall, 5'10" and lovely 47 year old. She had auburn hair that she wore at her neck, and today, was gorgeous in a pleated skirt and blouse. Her day with Amalia, and all of the 'getting settled' issues was going exceedingly well.)
Walking behind them, really more like strolling behind them was Jerome Cummings, actually Dr Jerome Astin Cummings. He was chief of staff and chief of surgery at the University Hospital. He was a 39 year old bachelor, who'd been an avowed Momma's boy until a few years ago, when his lovely Momma had finally succumbed to her illness and joined the love of her life, Jerome's Dad, in death.
He was having the day off and decided to do some shopping at the Mall. He wanted a few new shirts, having weeded out a pile of things and taken them, earlier that morning, to the GoodWill store.
Jerome was walking along and whistling softly to himself, a habit that he neither noticed nor was ever tempted to break.
He was idly looking at the pair walking ahead of him, across the parking lot. It was a willowy woman in a flouncy skirt and a little girl. They were holding hands and, apparently, having a great time, if he could judge by the giggles that he was hearing.
It made Jerome smile, the loveliness of the scene that they presented.
Then it happened. Almost in slow motion, it happened: The woman caught her heel, the heel of her high heeled shoes, on one of the barriers in the parking lot. As Jerome looked on, his eyes widening and his concern kicking in right away, the woman's ankle turned at a nasty angle and he heard a kind of grinding noise. She fell, immediately. She went down onto the parking lot and was instantly making noises about the pain in her ankle. The little girl, surprised and alarmed, began to cry immediately.
It was just then that Jerome, the only other person around, got to them.
"Ma'am," he asked, "Are you alright?"
"Noooo," she wailed, "My ankle."
"Yes, I can see," he said. "Let me help you!"
"Please, it hurts so much!" she said, trying to be brave for the sake of the little girl, who was crying.
Jerome was kneeling there and turned, almost instinctively to the little girl and put his arms around her. She cried into his shoulder.
He spoke to the little girl but gave the woman a message at the same time: "I'm a doctor," he said, "And I need you to be brave and help me help your Momma."
"Grandma!" Amalia said automatically.
"Yes, your Grandma!" he corrected himself.
"My car is that blue one right over there," he said, pointing to his Jaguar. "Do you see it?"
"Yes," Amalia said, brushing the tears away from her eyes.
"Go to my car and in the back seat bring me the black bag; can you do that for me to help, honey?" he asked kindly.
"Yes, Doctor!" Amalia said, determined to be brave.
As Amalia went off to get the black bag, Jerome turned to the woman on the ground. He reached out and straightened her skirt, which had ridden up and was at that point showing her lovely legs, almost to her panties.
"Thank you," she said, sobbing. "Doctor?"
"Yes," he said, "Doctor Jerome Astin Cummings."
"Here," he said, reaching into his jacket and taking out a card, which told Katie that he was indeed Dr Jerome Astin Cummings, Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at the University Medical Center.
"Ohh," Katie said, "How fortunate for me to have my collapse in the presence of a doctor!"
"Well planned!" he said with a smile, getting a smile in return.
Then he spoke to her: "I'm not sure if your ankle is broken or if it is only sprained, but I'm going to give you something for the pain. Then we'll see about an ambulance."
"Please no ambulance," Katie said almost urgently, looking at Amalia, who was coming back with the black bag. "Her Mom and Dad were killed in an accident, which she survived and the ambulance will only cause a problem, I fear."
"Fine," he said, "I'll take you in, in my car. We'll be fine."
"Your bag," Amalia said, presenting Jerome with the black bag.
"Thank you, sweetie," he said. "Now we'll give Grandma something to help her out."
"Good," Amalia said, "I'm glad."
Jerome gave Katie a pain shot, which settled her down right away.
"We need to go to the hospital, so that I can have this looked at," he said, and Katie nodded.
Then he turned to Amalia and said: "Here's what we'll do. Please go back to my car and in the trunk, I'll open it for you, you'll find a pillow. Bring it."
Amalia was back with the pillow right away.
"Here's the plan," he said, "I'm going to pick Grandma up and you put the pillow under her ankle and you hold the ankle and the pillow. It'll help her."
"Oh, thank you, Doctor!" Amalia said.
Jerome then picked Katie up, with only one small wrinkle in his plan. As he put his hand under her knees, he had to move it to balance her but he hadn't gotten his hand on the outside of her pleated skirt. As a result, his hand was now firmly planted on Katie's panty covered butt.
Her reaction startled him at first. She grinned, the shot having made her mellower.
"Sorry!" he said in a whisper.
"Don't get fresh!" she said.
"Won't!" he answered.
"Grandma Katie?" Amalia asked, not sure what was happening.
"We're fine, honey," Katie said and together Jerome and Amalia moved Katie to his car. He reached out then, with a free hand and opened the back door and was able to get Katie onto the back seat and slide her into the back of the Jaguar, with Amalia supporting the ankle until her Grandma Katie as all the way in the back seat.
"Good," Jerome said. "Are you okay there?"
"Yes, thank you, Jerome, ... er ... Doctor!" Katie said.
"Jerome please," he said, and she smiled.
When Katie as set, he said: "Okay it's off to the University Hospital with you! Come on, Amalia! Too bad I don't have a siren!"
Amalia giggled at that.
In the back seat of the Jaguar, Katie was resting. Jerome had put a pillow under her head, and made her comfortable.
Before they drove away, he took Amalia's hand in his and said: "Grandma Katie is going to be fine, honey! I'll make sure of that!"
Amalia began to cry at that point, and simply followed her instincts and reached for him. He took her in his arms and kissed the top of her head, as she said a soft 'thank you, Doctor, for taking such good care of my Grandma Katie; she's so special.'
"Yes, she certainly is," Jerome said. "So, we're off now."
Jerome drove in a hurry to the hospital. As a matter of fact, he was stopped by a policeman, who became their escort, once Jerome identified himself and told the officer about the injured woman in the back seat. They made the University Medical Center in about twenty minutes.
Once at the Medical Center, Jerome thanked the policeman, and Amalia thanked the officer too, and Jerome went to get some help.
"Stay with Grandma Katie," he said to Amalia, "I'll be right back."
He was as good as his word, returning quickly with a wheel chair and a nurse attendant.
CARING FOR KATIE, AND AMALIA:
.... There is more of this story ...