by Melisa Read




Kel and Dixie were chatting at the bay station with Roy. Roy was picking up supplies for the squad, while Johnny was in deep conversation with Sharon, his girlfriend of six months.  Sharon and Johnny were trying to decide what they were going to do this evening. Today was Sharon’s one-month anniversary of being a full-fledged nurse. 


Roy was getting tickled at watching them. “Dix I do believe this girl is going to be the one that’s actually going to make Junior a married man.” Roy said with a twinkle in eyes.  “Well being married is the best thing in the world” Kel replied. With that he kissed Dixie. She started to say something. He said, “We are on our time. Its lunch and since I left ours in the car I will be right back. See ya later Roy” “Bye Doc.”


 Dixie looked at Roy with a thoughtful glance.  Roy noticed “OK out with it Dix.”  “Oh I am just wondering when you and that partner of yours is going to start calling my husband Kel, instead of Doc.”  Roy just grinned. “Dixie old habits die hard. Beside this is work. We do call him Kel outside of that. You know that.” 


“I know. I am just teasing. I haven’t been able to tease Johnny. He has been to good lately.” With that remark she giggled. Roy just shook his head.


In a few minutes Johnny came up to Roy. “Hey, I am going to walk Sharon to her car. She thinks she left her purse there this morning. Seems she was just in a little bit of hurry to get here.” He said this with a gleeful look. Sharon nudged him good-naturedly.  “Come on Romeo!”  He gave her a huge hug.  They took off hand in hand.


Dixie looked at her watch. “Dixie what’s wrong, that’s the third time you looked at your watch?”  Roy asked.  “Well, Kel left almost twenty minutes ago and I’m a little worried.”  “Dixie, doctors are like policemen and firemen. They see someone they know, start talking and don’t know when to shut up.”  Dixie replied half-heartedly “yea, I guess you’re right.”


Johnny and Sharon were having an animated conversation while walking to her car. All of sudden Johnny stopped in his tracks. “Johnny what’s wrong?”  “Quiet. I heard something over there in the corner.”  They walked over towards the back of the garage area where the doctor’s park.


Johnny stopped and stared. Then his mind went to automatic pilot. There on the ground between two cars lay Kel. He was unconscious and bleeding profusely.  Somebody had hurt him bad. Sharon let out a blood-curdling scream.




Johnny ran to him. Felt a pulse and breathed a sigh of relief.  He started checking him over. Meanwhile Sharon stood frozen. She couldn’t move. Johnny screamed at her. “Sharon run into the ER and get help. NOW!”  She took off. Johnny meanwhile began to assess Kel’s injuries.  Johnny said very softly as he touched Kel, “Good Lord”


Sharon ran into the ER and saw Dr. Mike Morton. “Dr. Morton, come quickly. Get some orderlies. Dr. Brackett has been beaten up!”  Mike got two orderlies to follow him and Sharon where Johnny was.  Dixie and Roy overheard and ran to catch up with them.


Mike came to halt when he saw Johnny kneeling next to Kel.  He just couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Johnny looked up at Mike. He cleared his throat “Mike, he um, has contusions and abrasions all over his body from what I can see. It looks like he has several ribs that are broken. One may have punctured his lung because his breathing is ragged. He also has deep lacerations on his forehead and back of his head. I think his arm may be broken. He reacted to pain stimulus when I checked his arms and legs.”


Mike took a deep breath. Before he had a chance to speak he heard a scream. “KEL, NO!”  It was Dixie. Roy was trying to restrain her. “No Dixie stay with me. Let them do their job.” She finally listened and sunk into his arms.


Mike assessed his injuries. “OK Johnny lets you and I get his arms and back. Tim and Will I want you get his legs. Sharon keep his neck and head aligned when we start to move him.”  Everyone nodded that they understood what to do. With swift efficiency they got Kel up on the gurney with no problems.  Mike screamed “move”


As they came in the through the ER doors quit a crowd had gathered. Word had spread quickly through out the hospital of the beating.  Mike screamed “Everyone Get Out Of The Way, Move IT!” 


They got Kel in a treatment room. Instead of transferring him to another gurney Mike shoved the other one out of the way. RN’s Carol and Kay came in the treatment room to help.  Roy sat Dixie in a chair. He then proceeded to make a phone call. Within a minute he came back and knelt down by Dixie and held her hand. 


Mike was starting to bark orders. “I want a CBC, Lights, X-rays of the skull, legs, abdomen, chest, arms and left hand. Carol I want you start cleaning his wounds. Kay and Sharon get his clothes off and get a gown on him. Start an IV with Ringers wide open.”  Nobody else said a word. They all did as they were told.


Johnny made his way over to Dixie and Roy. The three of them watched in silence. Dix was shaking so hard Roy was afraid she was going to pass out. Johnny said to her “Dix, honey come on you need to let us take you to the lounge.”  She shook her head. Tears were streaming down her face.



Fifteen minutes later Mike was going over the X-rays when the door burst open and Joe ran in. You could tell he had just come from surgery. He was still in his scrubs.  “Mike, I just heard, how is he?”   Mike cleared his throat. You could tell this was hard on him.  When he started talking he felt like his voice was coming out of a cave.



Everything seemed hallow and distance like it wasn’t really him. “He has severe lacerations on the forehead and back of his skull. It looks like he may have a severe concussion.  He is still unconscious. His nose is split, which is going to require stitches. His left hand is broken in two places, but will heal fine. Orthopedics will look at it later when he is settled.  Both arms have been bruised. He has four broken ribs.”


“I thought at first that one of the ribs had punctured his lung but his breathing has stabilized since we put him on O2.  He’s got bruises all over his face and body. He also has deep wounds to his legs and abdomen. Probably done with a blunt instrument.” 


“He reacts to pain stimulus, though, which has been good. I am going to have the Ortho look at his and set it. ICU is getting a bed set up. The rest will be up to him.”  With that Mike took off his glasses and pinched his nose and rubbed his eyes. Everyone knew that was Mike’s way of trying to keep his emotions in tact.


It was very quit in the room. Then you heard it. The crying that was coming from the corner of the room. Mike forgot that Dix was in the room. He felt like crawling in a hole. Joe patted him on the shoulder and gave him a reassuring nod.


Joe walked over to Dixie. He knelt in front of her. He opened his arms and she collapsed into them and just cried saying “Why, Why him? I don’t understand who would have done this. It doesn’t make any sense.”  Joe chose his words carefully. “Dixie, I know for a fact that his assault has been reported. The police are looking into it. They will find out who did this. When Kel comes too he will be able to tell them what he knows. In the meantime lets get him settled in ICU. If you want me to I will pick Tina up from school.”


“Oh Lord, with everything that is going on I completely forgot that it’s almost time to pick her up. She will know when you go there to get her that something is wrong.”  Roy interjected “Dixie you don’t have to worry about Tina. Joanne is going to pick her up and take her to our place. The explanation for now is that you and Kel are late getting off work and asked her to pick Tina up when she gets Jen and Chris. We can work out the rest later.” 


Dixie looked up at Roy with love and compassion. “Is that the phone call you made earlier?”  Roy nodded and then said “Also, Johnny and I are on call from here. I told Hank what happened. So we are here if you need us until we get a call.”  Dixie said, “Thanks.” 


Joe and Mike along with the nurses got Kel cleaned up. He had bruising around his eyes and nose. His nose required 5 stitches. Mike found a cut on his check that went up to his hairline. That took 10 stitches. Joe and Mike put a total of 100 stitches in his legs and arms.  His hand was set. They put on an abdomen wrap to help his ribs heal.


Kel still hadn’t regained consciousness and as near as everyone could figure he had been out for almost 10 minutes when John and Sharon found him. Joe looked down at his friend after they got him cleaned and stitched up. “OK guys lets get him moved to ICU.

 As the orderlies made their way out of the treatment room a path began to clear for them.     It was an errie site.


 Tim Shields, the hospital administrator, made his way into ICU almost two hours after the fact. He knew that Dixie was upset and things were a little hectic downstairs and he didn’t want to get in the way. 


He saw Joe and motioned for him to meet him outside.  “How is he Joe?”  “He is in bad shape. We are putting him on the critical list due to his injuries especially with him remaining unconscious.  Looks like he is going to be a patient for a while.”  Tim looked into the ICU cubicle that Kel was in and just shook his head. 


“Lt. Crockett has arrived and secured the area where Kel was beaten up. I have given him total access to the hospital. Do you know of anyone that would want to do this to him?”  “Not that I can think of right now Tim. We have to wait till Kel comes too.”  Tim looked at Joe and asked in a very quiet tone “When will that be?”  Joe shrugged.


 Tim was quit for a moment lost in thought then cleared his throat “Oh, let Dixie know that she is on emergency leave until further notice. Tell her not to worry, several of the nurses that work closely with her have volunteered to work her schedule until further notice. 


Twenty minutes later Roy and Johnny had to leave due to a call. Stated they would check in later. Johnny stopped in the ER to check on Sharon before he left.


Two hours later, with Dixie planted at his side, Kel was still unconscious.  Lt. Jack Crockett made his way into the ICU area.  Joe was going over Kel’s chart. He noticed Crockett.  “Hey Jack.  How are you doing?” 


“I’m doing fine Joe, but how is my buddy doing?”  Joe sighed. Jack got the hint.  “How is Dix doing?”  Joe looked at her saying quietly “terrified.”  “Is it OK if I talk with her for a few minutes?”  Joe nodded his OK. 


Jack walked over and placed his hand on her shoulder.  She looked up at him smiled warmly.  “Hi Jack. I know you want some information from me. I have been trying to think of who could do this to him but at the moment I can’t think. I’m sorry.”


 Jack smiled warmly and said “That’s OK. I tell you what I will check back later when he comes too. Will that be OK?”  Dixie nodded OK. 


About an hour later Dixie felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned and looked directly into the eyes of her and Kel’s daughter.  She hugged Tina.  Finally she asked, “What are you doing here? You are supposed to be at Roy and Joanne’s.”


 Joanne interjected “I didn’t count on a TV news bulletin announcing what happened. Sorry Dixie, but she insisted.”  Dixie just smiled her understanding.  Tina stepped away from her mother and walked up to head of her dad’s bed. 


She stroked his hair and then kissed him on the check. “Come on ‘poppy’ you have to wake up. You promised you would never leave me. I can’t go through losing another daddy. Please wake up!”  With that Tina just let the tears flow freely.


Dixie got up and gave Tina a hug. “Sweaty, daddy has to have some rest. Yes, he’s hurt, but his friends are helping. I need you to do me a favor. I need you to stay with Roy and Joanne for a couple of days.”  Tina started to object but the pleading look from her mother was too much. 


“I’ll be good and stay with Uncle Roy and Aunt Joanne. But, mom, right now can’t I just sit with him for a little bit longer, with you. I’ll stay out of the way, I promise. Please?”  Dixie realized her daughter was scared about losing another parent. She agreed. “OK just for a little bit then I need you to go back with Joanne.” 


Two hours later, James Wilson the orthopedic surgeon came in to check on Kel. He tried to be quiet. Dixie was asleep in the chair with her hand resting on his arm.  She felt the movement. She sat up quickly. 


“Sorry Dix, I was trying to not move him to much. You were sleeping and I didn’t want to disturb you.”  “Thanks James. But right now I don’t know if I could really sleep until he comes too. Well what about his hand?”  James grinned “Looks good. His hand will not require surgery. Mike was able to set it when they had him in the ER. I leave you alone. Holler if you need anything.”  Dixie smiled back at him. 


She looked at her husband of 6 years and thought how lucky they had been until now.  She stroked his hair and started talking to him “Hey you. I need you to wake up. You and I have a lot to do. We have a beautiful little girl that is blossoming into a young lady. She needs her ‘poppy’ to ward off the guys. I need you in my life. Come on Kel, wake up!”  She finally couldn’t hold the tears any longer and wept. 


Midnight came. Kel was still unconscious.  Dixie was finally convinced by Nancy the ICU head nurse to take a nap in the ICU nurse’s lounge.  Mike was there. He agreed to sit with Kel a little while so Dixie could get some rest. 



At five a.m. Mike felt a hand on his shoulder. It was Joe. “Morning Joe. He’s still out, but his vital signs are stronger this morning.”  “That’s good to hear. Maybe, just maybe he might start coming out of it soon. Have you seen Dix this morning?”  “No, but I am hoping she is still sleeping.”  “Sorry guys, but I’m awake.” 

Dixie couldn’t help but laugh because they both turned at the same time to look at her with the same oh man expression.  She looked rested, but you could see the worry in her eyes.  She was in her street clothes thanks to Joanne.  “Mike did I hear you say that his vitals were better.”  “Yes, Dix they look better this morning.”


Dixie went over to Kel’s right side and picked up his hand and lovingly squeezed it.  As if on cue she felt a squeeze.  “Joe, Mike he squeezed my hand!”  Joe bent over him and with the penlight checked his pupils.  “Dixie start talking to him. I believe he is trying to come out of it!”


“Kel, honey, I need you to wake up!  Come on Kel, wake up you will be late for work.”  She kissed him on the forehead then squeezed his hand and lovingly touched his arm.  They waited.  It seemed like an eternity but they heard a small groan. For the trio it was a welcome sound. They knew with just a little bit more pushing that he would come to.  Joe said with authority “Kel, come on. Snap out of it. I need you to wake up. NOW!” 


Then they saw it.  Kel eyes started to flutter and finally they opened up.  He groaned. Slowly Kel began to focus on where he was.  Everything was still fuzzy, but he could make out Dixie.  With a weak voice “Dixie …that…you.”  She kissed him on the cheek. “Yes sweetheart it’s me. How do you feel?”  As she asked him this she continued to soothingly stroke his hair. She felt like the contact was needed for him. 


“I….hurt….everywhere.”  When he said that he sucked in sharply and wished he hadn’t.  “Kel just take it easy.” “Joe…how….long?”  Kel asked and then stopped. He closed his eyes tightly in obvious pain.  “Kel you have been unconscious for almost 24 hours.  Just relax your breathing, we’re here just take it easy. That’s right relax”  “Mike go call Jack Crockett and let him know that Kel has regained consciousness.”  Mike left to call.  


Kel closed his eyes and his breathing regulated.  “That’s right honey just relax, I will be here when you wake up. Joe ordered something for pain. When the nurse brought it Joe started to administer it when Jack Crockett walked in.  Joe decided to wait, because he realized that just maybe it might be better if Kel had a clear head. 


“Hey Joe, I hear your star patient is now awake.”  Kel opened his eyes slowly “ Hi, Jack.” Jack noticed how much pain Kel was in and decided that the best thing to do was to take it slow.  “Kel, it’s good to see you awake. I have a few questions for you, do you think you can answer them for me.”  Kel gave a slow affirmative nod.  “All right then. You tell me though when you feel like you need to rest, OK.”  Kel again nodded yes.



“Kel, Johnny and Sharon found you by your car around 12:30 yesterday unconscious. You had been beaten up.  Do you remember?”  Kel closed his eyes and winced both from the pain and the memory of what happened to him. “Honey you OK?” Dixie asked with concern in her voice.  “Yes” he said real slow and in an unconvincing tone. 


Joe was concerned.  “Jack I don’t know if this a good time. He is only been conscious for about an hour.”  “I understand your concern Joe, but, in order to get the person or persons who did this to him we need to get it done quickly before they hurt someone else.”


“J..o..e, he’s right. I know who…who…did…did…it.”  Kel said in a halting tone.  Jack sat down on the stool next to Dixie.  “Kel take your time.”  Kel licked his lips. His throat was so dry.  Dixie got a cup of water and had Kel sip some water through a straw.  “Tha..ank….you….”  Kel took a deep breath, then said haltingly “It was James Donelson. He blames me.”  Kel stopped a second. Closed his eyes and winced in pain.  Everyone could tell this was taking a lot out of him. 


Jack asked “Who is this Donelson fellow and what does he blame you for?”  Dixie answered for Kel.  “Mr. Donelson’s brother died of injuries from gang activity almost four months ago.  The boy was 17. Mr. Donelson , I guess is around 25. He blames Kel for what he believed was not sufficient care. He apparently arrived after his brother and watched everything that was happening.


He made a lot of threats that day, Joe, Mike, Johnny, Roy, Brice and Bellingham were witnesses. They had to help hold him back from attacking Kel that day. We all figured he was upset from the news.  We didn’t take them seriously, because that will happen from time to time when you tell a loved on of a death. I wish we had now.”


While Dixie was telling Jack who beat him up, Kel, was remembering what happened in the garage. He began to hyperventilate.  “Hey, Hey, Kel, slow you’re breathing. Come on now. Slow it down.” Joe said in a very soothing tone. “There that’s better. Just take it easy.” 


Jack watched him carefully. He knew he had to know what happened in the garage plus in the ER that day.  “Kel I realize this is hard for you but I need to know what happened.”

Kel closed his eyes. He didn’t want to talk about it. Tears formed at the corners. Dixie wiped them away.


In a very slow painful tone Kel told what happened to him. “I…..had…. just said goodbye to Dixie and Roy…. at the….. base-station. I was walking….. to….. my car to get our lunches.” He stopped. The memory was just too much. He closed his eyes. Dixie squeezed his hand to let him know that she was there. “I started to…to…o..open the car door when I felt a…a….gun….in my….b…ack.  I  recognized his voice.  He said it…..wa..was….time to pay for my sins. He made me turn around. When I did he hit me in the face.  I started to….to….punch back…but..but…felt my….hands…..pulled back.  He had help.  Three or four more men around his age.”  Kel stopped for a minute.  He had to catch his breath. He was so tired. He closed his eyes. 


“Kel, honey, you OK to finish this. Jack can come back later.” Dixie asked.   When Kel opened his eyes you could see the strain that this was putting on him. Joe was going to stop the interview but Kel shook his head no.  “Joe, Dixie, I have to do this now. If….If…I don’t…I won’t be able to later.”  “OK Kel, its your decision.” Joe said.


“He hit me repeatedly in the face.”  Kel said closing his eyes not only from the pain and the memory.  “OH GOD!….I…I…screamed for h…he..lp…They laughed at me. T..h..e..n.. I felt this l…lig…..tnening pain in my….my….leg…s and a…rms.  I….fell…to the ground….then w…wh….ite….h…ot pain in my h…..hand. He kept sa….ay…ing… over and over that I…w…a…s paying for his brother’s death.  He ki….ck…ed me in the side over….and ….over.


He….knew….I was….marr…ied…had….a….child….”  Kel started breathing harder. “TINA!”  “Shush Kel she’s OK. She stayed with Joanne last night and will stay there for a couple of days.” Dixie said trying to calm him down.


“Kel, why don’t you relax a minute. I am going to make a call to the station. I think I may know who the boy is that you’re talking about. Meanwhile I am going to post a guard at your door, have one with Dixie when she does leave the hospital to go home. This guy probably doesn’t know where your daughter is but we will check the DeSoto home just to be careful.” Jack said. 

Kel closed his eyes grateful for the break.  In a minute you could tell from his breathing that he was sleeping.  Jack came back in twenty minutes later.  He said to  Dixie, Joe and Mike “Donelson’s going to be picked up within the next two hours. A warrant is being issued  for his arrest on the charges of assault with intent to commit murder. The boy is well known in the gang district. I’ve got a picture that was just brought to me and I need to wake Kel for a positive ID.” 


Dixie went over to her husband. She gently shook him. “Kel wake up.”  Kel opened his eyes. He could tell from Jack’s expression he had something. “Kel, the young man you spoke of I have come to discover is well known in the gang district. I have a picture of him that I need you to look at. If it’s him it will positively ID him. We have a warrant for his arrest.” 


Kel nodded. Jack put the picture in front of him.  Kel closed his eyes.  In a very quiet tone that sounded very fearful “that’s him.”  “OK Kel thanks. I will have my men arrest him. With your taped testimony and I’m sure that the paramedics will help with what happened several months ago we can keep this guy behind bars. In the meantime try to relax and get well. OK?”  Kel swallowed then said “thanks Jack.”  Jack just smiled and left. 


“Kel how do you feel?” Joe asked with concern.  “I’m….really….tired… want to s…leep….if….that’s….OK.”  Joe smiled and said “sure no problem. I will check on you later. Maybe by tomorrow we get you moved to a room”  Kel just nodded OK. Joe left.



Dixie watched her husband with great concern. “Dixie….don’t….leave…me….please!”  “I’m not going anywhere. If I do step away it will only be a minute to go to the nurse’s lounge OK. I promise I won’t be far.”  Kel nodded took her hand and held on to it like it was his lifeline for safety.  She realized for the first time that he was not only hurting physically but mentally as well.


Kel slept for a few hours, but he was restless. Dixie was sitting next to his bed. Joe came in to keep him company. She told him her fears about what this was doing to Kel mentally.  “Dixie you have to realize that this has been a shock. He is concerned not only about himself but more about you and Tina. It would kill him if something happened to you two. You and Tina are his life. Ever since you two got married then adopted Tina he finally became a whole person. Now this has happened. It’s turned him upside down.”


Dixie just gave Joe a hug. They both sat there quietly watching him sleep. Then they noticed. He was having a nightmare.  He started to say in his sleep “NO” over and over. They watched his body. He was putting his hands up in front of his face. They had to stop him before he hurt himself.  “KEL WAKE UP” Joe said forcefully. Kel woke up with a start.  He saw Dixie and Joe. He didn’t care anymore. He started crying and saying over and over “I thought I was going to die.”  He looked at Dixie “don’t…don’t leave me, please!” 


She carefully sat down on his bed. Picked him up gingerly and hugged and rocked him. “It’s OK, shush, no one is going to hurt you.” She said to him over and over. Finally his body relaxed. With Joe’s help they laid him back. Dixie and Joe both realized this was going to be a long recovery.


At Joe’s request only Kel was not to have any visitors while he was in ICU.  Tina was told that her father was recovering but needed the rest. Father and daughter spoke by telephone, which helped Tina, the most. Dixie called Neal Brackett and explained what happened. Neal agreed to wait for a few days then he would call back to check on Kel’s condition.  Two days later Kel was moved into a private room.


The private room was the best thing for him. The couch made into a bed where Dixie could stay with him.  After the orderlies got him the bed you could tell he was exhausted. He was black and blue all over, but the bruises didn’t look as bad that day as they did three days ago. Dixie was fussing over him when they heard a soft knock on the door.  Kel tensed up, but then relaxed when his two favorite paramedics walked through the door.


“Hey Kel, how are you today?” asked Johnny.  Johnny had to see for himself how Kel was doing. He was still bothered by the image of what he found in the garage.  Weakly Kel said “Better….today.”  Roy was grinning at him and Dixie. He proceeded to take a picture out of a package that a certain young lady drew at school.  He put it on the wall so Kel could look at it. 

It showed three people, a house and a dog.  It wasn’t stick people. It was a beautiful drawing made of charcoal.  “She told me that once you were set in a room for me to bring this. She wanted something to brighten your day that would bring a smile to your face.”


Kel cleared his throat. He didn’t know what to say.  Dixie came up to Roy and gave him a hug.  “Thank you from the both us for taking her in like that.”  “Oh don’t worry about it Dixie. We love having her around. Chris and Jenny are having a field day because their ‘big sister’ is there with them.  You are going to have to pry her away from those two when she gets to come home.”  Roy said with a smile.


Johnny decided to get serious. He didn’t feel like beating around the bush anymore. “So how long are you going to have to stay and did they catch the punk that did this to you?”  From the tone of his voice you could tell he was pissed off.


“Well Joe seems to think he will be here from two to three weeks. He feels and so do I that his physical recovery will start better here.  We are also going to work on some other things as well.” Kel shifted uncomfortably when Dixie made the last statement. You got the feeling he was embarrassed.


Roy and Johnny just looked at each other knowingly.  Johnny said “What you mean is that Joe wants Kel to see a psychologist for the beating.”  Kel looked at Dixie and rolled his eyes.  Johnny couldn’t help but laugh.  “Hey listen its not half bad talking about what scares you.  You, yourself suggested to Roy and me on numerous occasions that physchological help would be there if we needed it.  That it will help. And before you start to say anything I have done it, as has Roy. Take your own advice, because otherwise you are going to drown in fear. I’ve been there and all it does is take your self worth away.”


Kel looked at Johnny thoughtfully for a long minute.  He cleared his throat and said to Dixie “Have Joe set up those sessions he was talking about. I believe Johnny’s right. I’ve been having the nightmares. I keep reliving it and I have got to get the control back.”  Dixie gave her husband a kiss and then gave Johnny a hug and whispered in his ear “thank you.” 


One week later Kel was sitting up in a chair for two hours at a stretch. He persuaded Dixie to go back to work. Tina was now at home. She came to visit him last night. She knew she was welcome to stay at the DeSota’s home if Dixie decided to stay with Kel at night.  Kel was sitting up in the chair when Jack Crockett knocked and came in.  “Hey Kel, how are you feeling today?” 


“Better, thank you.”  “Well you look better than you did ten days ago.”  “Thank you, but I have a feeling this is not a social call.”  Before Jack could answer Dixie, Joe and Mike walked in the door. Joe said “Sorry Jack we didn’t know you were here.” 


“That’s all right what I have to say I would have told you three also. Plus I wanted you four to know first before the news this afternoon.  Phil Donelson was arrested the day after Kel gave me his statement.  He was arraigned and his bond was set very high. He didn’t care that he got caught. He even finked on the three boys that helped him beat you up. We realized that we had to keep the other three away from him, but they apparently had friends in jail.  


This morning he was found beaten to death. A homemade club was found next to his body. A note was placed on his body. The note said ‘We hope that the Doc can rest now. He helped others to live and needs to continue. We are sorry for what happened.’ The boy who wrote the note was found and charged with accessory to commit murder. He won’t squeal on the boys that killed Donelson. His phrase was ‘I’m not a canary’.”


“WOW” was all Mike could utter.  Dixie who had been watching Kel while Jack told them everything noticed how his expression changed from glad the boy got caught to oh man another life wasted.  “Sweetheart, how do you feel about what’s happened?”  All eyes of course were on Kel.  He cleared his throat and said “while I’m sorry to hear that the boy was killed thank the lord he won’t hurt anybody else.  Maybe, just maybe now I can rest.” With that said, Kel closed his eyes.  A small tear went down his cheek. 


“Well, I have to go now. I just wanted to let you know that the other three boys will be going to trial next week. You don’t have to be there. We have your signed and taped testimony. A conviction will come. They will probably get twenty years to life with parole in about 10 years. Kel take care. If you need anything just let me know.” They all said goodbye.


Joe and Mike were actually too stunned to speak. It was just unbelievable. Dixie wanted to know how he felt and gave a pleading look to her colleagues.  After Joe and Mike left Dixie helped Kel get back in bed. She knew he was exhausted and this news was a lot.  After what seemed to take a lifetime Kel was finally settled because every spot on his body hurt.  Dixie was gently stroking his hand while she sat on the edge of the bed.  “Kel, honey, how do you feel about what happened to the young man that hurt you?”  She looked at his face. For the first time in years she couldn’t read what he was feeling.


He took her hand and gently squeezed it. “I’m not a bit sorry for that young man. I know as a doctor I should be, but he tried to kill me. I’m so thankful to be alive! I’ve been so scared since this happened that he would somehow get out of jail and seek more revenge. Either on me or you or Tina and I was really scared because I couldn’t be there to protect you two.  I feel like maybe now I can really recover and the fear that I have had will go away. I know that I have scared Tina with what happened. I think she feared that she was losing another parent. Maybe now she can calm down some.” He stopped for a minute took a breath. He leaned up with some pain kissed her then said, “I love you. Thank you for being here for me. You don’t know how much your support has meant to me.” 


She leaned down and hugged him gently saying through tears “That’s what partners do. They watch out for each other, care for one another and silently are there when support is needed. I love you with all my heart and I was scared to death that I would lose you.”


Kel stayed in the hospital for another two weeks. He gained strength daily. His stitches in his legs came out three weeks after the beating. His cast on his hand came off four weeks later.


He was walking with a slight limp but the therapist said that would work itself out with time. He would have a small scar on his left cheek and small one above his right eye. Only those who knew what happened could actually see it.


When he returned to work two months later he was totally surprised at the welcome he received in the doctor’s lounge. They had a cake that was beautifully decorated and a few presents were given. 


He was asked to give a speech. In the all the years that the people at Rampart who had worked with Kelly Brackett this was a first. He couldn’t think of anything to say. He finally told everyone “I’m overwhelmed. Thank you so much for your support and help during this difficult time. Again thanks.”


After everyone walked out of the lounge it was just he and Dixie left. He gave her a huge hug. “Thank you for this. It’s wonderful.”  “No Kel thank you for being alive and still in mine and our daughter’s life.”  With that they kissed. Kel looked at her and said, “Come on let’s go to work.”