A NEW YEAR – A NEW LIFE

 

(Phil Duncan’s continued story)

(The short version)

 

By Neebeeshaabookway

 

 

 

~*~  CHAPTER ONE  ~*~

 

“ FACE TO FACE IN THE MIRROR, OR IN A DREAM…”

 

 

 

“What kind of thing is this…sending us off to these surrounding areas in helicopters?  This was my long awaited days off.  Do you know how long I waited for this?  Or do you know, but you just don’t have any sympathy?”  Johnny waited as he looked up at the chopper while Roy moved closer to board first.  “YOU JUST THINK I’M FEELING SORRY FOR MYSELF DON’T YOU!” he yelled over the noise of the engine, as he moved to catch up to Roy, and get inside to join him.   It was then, up, up and away, as the saying goes—and Johnny mumbled it to himself until Roy interrupted him.

 

“Yep, how’d you know?” Roy gave him just the hint of a smile. “Come on Johnny, try to relax, it’ll all be over before you know it.  This is all in the name of our paramedic program expanding, you know.  These folks want to see what chopper rescue can really do, okay… you know that.  So we’re the usable guinea pigs.”

 

“Aww, speak for yourself… I’m more like a scout roped into some far-out trip, than some kind experimental case-animal.”  He turned quick and latched onto Roy’s arm, “say, listen… we’re getting a call already.”

 

They both stopped debating about how they felt about their weekly turn of events, as the call come over the radio.  Their new trainee turned to listen, as well, while the chopper pilot answered, and they quickly turned directions.  It was rescue time and what a rescue it’d turn out to be.  Not only would it be unforgettable and shocking—it’d be unearthing a host of forgotten shocking things.

 

“Say the police are swarming the place down there… look at that… man what mess!  I don’t think I’ve seen that many in Los Angeles on a bad day!”  Johnny laid hold of the situation, “say it looks like some sort of war was going on down there, there’s smoke still   smoldering over there, see that?”

 

“Yeah, I’d say that,” Roy answered as the helicopter began its land, “hey… looks like a motorcycle gang’s hang out to me.”

 

“Well, let’s get at it partner.”  Johnny gave him the eye, expecting the worse.  

 

Soon as they moved out into the crowd of police officers and ambulances, they were led to a young man, the worst of the casualties.   A gun-shot victim--their duty.

 

 “This is what we called you for, boys.  We thought he was dead… here, look.  Somehow this crew either got him back, or he was barely hanging on… don’t know which.  Take a look at him… if they tell you he’s still alive, you’re to take him to Los Angeles to Rampart… they’re his best hope.  He’s been shot in side of the head, and in the back… man, he’s a mess.   And all from hanging out here… seems the talk going around here is that some of these guys really had it in for him.”   The words sunk into Roy and Johnny’s minds as the officer left them to their work, as another officer called him over to follow:

 

 “Help me keep this gal away!   She’s falling apart and keeps fighting me to see him.  He’s her boyfriend or something… come on, give me hand, hurry up!”

 

The police finished rounding stragglers, and while they took final stories, and sent some folks off to jail, other officers sent others home.  Only one from the crowd would be receiving a helicopter ride.  Seemed he had exchanged his earlier chopper ride for a chopper of another kind entirely—through no choice of his own.  

 

 Roy and Johnny started doing what they knew best as the other trainee from the chopper ran through the crowd to join them—just trailing a few seconds behind.  Sure, it would be slower going, to get messages to and from Rampart, being this far away, but it was going to be done—and he was learning.  Yep--seemed this was far more important than any vacation any of them could come with up—even though it was pure adrenalin-pushing work.  Once Rampart was contacted and their dying patient was ready for transport, it was back to the chopper and a mad-rush of slow-motion-time to save the man’s life. 

 

Roy and Johnny would soon be back in flight this day—much more eager to spout the merits of their work to the chopper pilot and the other new trainee, of such programs—while this patient would be left in Doctor Brackett and Doctor Early’s hands.  They wouldn’t forget him, though, each patient was special to them—yet, even later, they’d never forget him for other reasons, all their lives.  They’d soon find that they had come face-to-face with something that could never mirror their wildest dreams, if they yet dreamed to try.  Yet, it was Kelly Brackett that would have the greater shock.

 

They were landing at Rampart and leaving the helicopter to wait for them, as they moved the patient closer and closer to Emergency.   Doctor Brackett was waiting and ready, along with a whole team at his urgent beck and call.  The wounded man was still alive because of their care, yet as they pushed through the emergency room doors the young man’s system failed, and they feared he was DOA.  Kel stepped in next, and went to work on him and they got him back.   He hung on long enough to be readied for surgery, and Kel was in full gear to save him, if possible, with Dixie by his side.

 

Roy and Johnny stalled before leaving, as long as they could, as they remembered back to their helicopter ride, and their unbelievable discovery that was made while they were redoing the bandages around the young man’s face and head:

 

                                                  *    *    *

“Roy… man, oh man,” Johnny gasped as he pulled back in shock, “you won’t believe this.  Take a look at this, hurry!  You will NOT believe this.”  Johnny near felt faint, “he’s a dead-ringer!”

 

“Dead?” he jumped quickly from his duties at the young man’s side, “I’m still getting a weak pul-” he froze, “Dear God, he whispered, I don’t believe it.”

 

They finished re-enforcing the bandages and sat in stoic quietness for the rest of the trip.  Sometimes life is stranger than fiction, but theirs had never been—until now.

 

                                                 *    *    *

They couldn’t stall any longer, the pilot radioed as to their delay—they were still on chopper duty, for training others of Rampart’s paramedic ways.  The patient was ready for Kelly to do what he could to keep the young man alive, until more work could be done for him if he lived, and was stabilized.  Such damages would take more work than what could be done here and now. 

 

“Should we tell him?” Johnny grabbed Roy, “no, no, I mean, we GOT to tell him… he’s going to find out in there, and he’ll be more shocked than we were!”  Johnny ran off to the emergency room just as Dixie, holding up her gloved hands, clear of his touch, prevented him.

 

“There’s no need, Johnny, Kel’s starting already, “if you have something we need to know, let’s have it fast.”

 

“That patient, Dixie… Kel needs to know something… you see he’s a dead-ring-“

 

Dixie was interrupted—the patient was slipping again, and it was her turn to step in—she stepped from Johnny’s sight.

 

Roy and Johnny were near to leave the Emergency when a huge commotion beginning from the emergency surgery, suddenly spilled out into the hall.   Doctor Early stepped in and another surgeon that was called, joined him, and Mike ran to fill-in for Dixie.  Kel was white as a sheet and looked like he’d pass out, and it was Dixie that had lead him out, and called out the orders for emergency back-up. 

 

The new trainee for Roy and Johnny’s program was at the door yelling for them, and was even now pulling them out the door.  There would be no need to tell Kelly Brackett—he knew.  Yeah, he knew now, and he learned first hand, the hard way.  For the first time in his life, Doctor Kelly Brackett couldn’t handle an emergency—he had left the room in shock, after calling for an emergency back-up.  He leaned against the wall now, trying for all he was worth to gain some kind of grasp of the situation.  He had walked out and yielded his patient to another—through proper channels, yes—but he had done it none the less.  And why?  Because he couldn’t operate on himself?  But it wasn’t him—yet, he sure looked like he was.  Why, he was dead-ringer—a twin for Kelly Brackett, it would truly be said—yet, he had no twin.  Or did he?

 

 Dixie was pulling him to his office, and all he could do was yield like a weak lamb.  He seemed to float through some kind of unseen fog, and there resting in the comfort of his office chair, he stared at the pictures on the wall of his office.  There were no family pictures, as his family history was a bit hushed and private.  There was a picture that he needed to see now—a picture of himself, and he got up to go into the side off-shoot room of his office as he looked in the mirror, while Dixie trailed him, in serious shock, herself.

 

 Kel stared at the image in the mirror for the longest time, and then spoke under his breath, “face to face in the mirror, or in a dream… I would expect it… but not here… not here on my operating table, here at Rampart.”  His hands were shaking as he turned to face Dixie, “I saw myself in there on that table Dixie… it was like looking in the mirror, face to face with myself… but it was completely impossible.” 

 

He slowly sat on the nearby dressing stool and looked at his hands as it began to sink in deeper and deeper as to what he had just done, “if I hadn’t been yielding my surgeries up to the new doc-in-training here, for this month, I’d be in big trouble Dix,” he looked up at her helplessly, “Dear God, what have I done… Dix, that man could die because I froze-up in there… he nearly did a few times, as it was.”

 

“Kel, you know that Doctor Jones just happened to be the perfect choice for these kinds of injuries, so calm down.  That’s what he’s here for, for you to let him work with us… and so far, you’ve barely yielded him a broken arm to work on.”  She helped him back to his desk, “now as to the patient looking like you, it must have been just from facial fluke… or perhaps a distortion or swelling…

 

“No, Dix… and there’s more… rumors… bad dreams… things you don’t know… and I know my own face… I shave it often enough.”  Kel looked down at his desk, as he shut her off.

 

“And you’re not talking, right?”

 

He looked over at her without a word or a nod, as she left the room.  She knew.  She just always knew.  He let her go and he walked back to the mirror and thought about the last days of his father.  His father had tried to tell him something.  He had nearly been ready, but he had died too quickly—‘family secrets need to be shared, Kel.’  And he had tried to share, and Kel had listened and could still remember the words:   It’s difficult, because those involved don’t always understand why the secrets came to pass in the first place… you would just have had to be there, is all, you see, son?’

 

Kel would come to see, and this was just the beginning.  Whether the young man lived or not, Kel’s history was alive.  He prayed that the young man, would, in spite of the odds, be more than a one-time view to his shocked eyes.   For the young man’s sake first, and his own, second.  That was Kel, and his way—and turned out, that was Phil, and his way, too.  Phil Duncan--Kel’s dying patient.

 


~*~  CHAPTER TW0  ~*~

 

RAMPART AND THE GENERAL INVASION BY THE INVASIVE GENERAL

 

 

 

Kel had finally composed himself.  Phil’s emergency surgery was over, and things were settled down.  He had gone in to look at the patient a few times, after consulting with Doctor Jones.  He continued to return to Phil’s side as the next few days passed on, and without fully realizing it, a long-since-gone bond, was being restored.  Kel prayed earnestly that the life-supported mirror-image would be restored from his damage, and live.

 

The gun shot wound had hit the man, Phil Duncan, in the left side of the back of his head, but had not made a full hit—if it had, he would have died immediately, yet, even so, from the heavy side-swipe, there had been much damage.  Time would tell, and Phil was in a coma, waiting that time out--time that would turn into weeks.  Time would tell more, too—he had been hit in the left rib area, shattering bone into the spine, yet he had only minimal paralysis—his heart area and part of his left lung had suffered damage, as well, and he had lost lots of blood.  Kel, being the doctor that he was, at this point, feared the worse—he had seen it many times.  Now, Rampart, on the other hand, was facing the worse—and right now.  It had terrible head damage and was reduced to near nothing, and had severe paralysis.  It had been hit full-on by a generally unseen—and if fully confessed—completely rare, near terminal hit.  It had been hit by a General.  General Daryl Do-or-Die Duncan and the man’s presence here had already worn out any patience that Kelly Brackett had managed to pocket-up and pass out.

 

“What’s the army still doing here, Dix?  This has gone too far… this is my hospital and I’ve had enough.”  He had stormed off before Dixie could catch him.  After a long heated debate with General Do-or-Die--Kel was now back.

 

“Well,” Dixie McCall peered back at him.

 

Kel sighed heavy and peered right back, and pushed past her in a huff.  She followed, sure enough, yet just close enough, so he’d not turn to his office.  Sure enough, yet again—she had surely done well--Kel chose the lounge.

 

“Well,” she peered into the coffee room.

 

He poured coffee and walked directly to the table, and sat facing her now, “it’s HIS hospital now.”   The coffee mug sat before them as a steaming center piece.  He knew it was too hot to drink, and so was this situation, “Dix… I can’t work this way.  There’s a cover-up going on here, and he’s got back-up power, clear up to Washington.  We’ve got that man standing guard, stepping on my toes, until Phil...” he paused in heaviness, “until Phil Duncan is well… if he gets well.  Life support doesn’t seem to be helping at the moment, does it,” he hung head in sorrow.

 

“Kel… there’s more going on here.  Let’s have it.”

 

Kel forced a laugh, one that better times would have seen-it-come with ease, “have you ever seen a General fall over?”  Kel took a swig of his coffee.  “I have.  That first day he showed up here.  You should have seen the look on his face when he saw me.”  Kel swallowed hard, and not from the coffee, “he went off the deep end, and wanted to what kind of joke I was pulling… seemed he though I was his son at first… me being in my street clothes, at Joe’s desk.  Oh, he could tell soon enough that I wasn’t, so we went directly into explaining his son’s condition… that is, until he explained his condition.  And--his terms for them being carried out.”  Kel leaned back, “you know, Dix… Phil never had a chance with that man… that man doesn’t seem to have a heart.  His son’s dying and all he can think about is protecting his famous name.  His only concern is that the Duncan name stays out of the newspapers with any connection to that gang.  They only printed what he wanted them to print, in everyway.”  Kel choked up and left the room, much to Dixie’s amazement.

 

Yep, it had been days now since Phil Duncan was brought in, and Dixie and all of Rampart were no closer to knowing what was going on with General Duncan, Phil, Kel, or now—as of today—the reporters.  The Rampart staff just wished that General Do-or-Die, who had already been “doing” enough, would just die-on-out now.

 

Kel Brackett bit his tongue, so to speak, as did the whole staff, while the General lied to reports about how his son had died.  He knew full-well that if his son lived through this, that back in Texas, no one would dare make waves over the temporary fake burial.  He’d stand his grounds that his son’s life was in danger from the trouble-making bikers—and after leaving the incident so far behind, no one would care by then.   What part Phil had in it all, by then, would have been seen as a home-coming soldier taking a bad wrong turn on the highway in the desert.  So, for now, he put on a real good show as he choked up, and told the nosey reporters how he had to keep coming back to revisit his son’s last days here.  He pretended to be so touched by the fact that because of his son’s death, at least he had come to find his son’s long lost brother, Kelly Brackett.  He went on-and-on how he was getting to know about the doctor’s life and was helping the family history back into place.  History, it was, but nothing that the General had previously ever cared about, or cared to bring to light—but it was lit-up-full to the room’s darkest corners now, and Kel was getting hit by the spotlight.   It was then, and only then, that Kel was in a fix.  A Dix-fix.  Dixie, Joe, Roy and Johnny had now cornered Kel in the lounge.  Mike was keeping all other staff members out—the others could corner Kelly own there OWN time.  This was THEIR time.

 

“What does that mean, long LOST brother?  So this Phil really IS your twin?  Or is he just making this up to justify WHY he’s still hanging around here, if his son is dead?”  Dixie was staring at Kel and all Kel could do was stare back.

 

As the rest of the stoic shocked group hovered as close as they dared, waiting for an answer, Kel became serious in a completely different manner than he had all week, “when did you hear this?” he demanded.  “Is that what’s he’s been up too, now?”

 

“Why, yes, Kel,” Joe Early revealed, “didn’t you hear?”

 

“I’m having my fill of the man, Joe, you know that… I’m doing what I can to avoid him.”  Kel’s disgust was showing. 

 

Dixie tried to over-rule it, “I’d advise you not to mess with him Kel, or he can have you removed from here, and most likely you won’t be working any where, ever again… except perhaps as a store clerk, or a factory worker.”  She was dead serious, and Kel knew it.  What was worse—Kel know that he was destined to meet up with General Duncan now, and as distasteful as it was, it had to be done.

 

“It’s time for me to pull this man’s story apart Dix… either that, or go down trying.  I don’t know why Phil is my twin… but I’ve come to accept it… and NOT from what he’s spouting-off about, whatever it is.  You see… my father… well, he was trying to tell me something before he died, and it looks like this is somehow all connected now.”  Kel handed them a photo, and left the room.

 

“Say, what is it, Dixie,” Roy asked.

 

Johnny stepped in and grabbed it up, carefully, “why it’s too little babies being cradled by… say… is that Kel’s dad there…he’s so young, it’s kind of hard to tell.  Why, that must be his mom then, right?”

 

Roy looked at Johnny oddly, “well, yeah, Johnny, I would think so,” he nodded to Joe, with a smirk.

 

“Hey… come on guys… I’m in the ball game, here.”  He gave the picture back to Dixie.

 

“Kel, as far as I’ve come to know, had no other siblings…” Dixie filled them in, even though they already knew this—or thought they knew, “…but now this picture seems to prove otherwise.”  She stared at Joe, “I wonder where he got this from… as of yesterday, Kel wasn’t sure what to think of Phil… now, he’s on the trail of accepting him as a twin.  Yet, how he does it, will prove to be very interesting, and four stars, so.”  She handed the picture to Joe, and Mike and the rest of them all dispersed for an emergency of Ramparts, as they were needed for patients whose life’s had worse emergencies than theirs now did.

 

The day was over before Dixie was able to talk to Kel again.  They had treated all their patients that day while hardly talking to each other, but it appeared that Kel and his illusive thoughts were lined up and ready to be fired her way.  She’d be the target for them, and she set her self up to be, in a good solid way, as she invited him for dinner, at her place.  He accepted—he needed the target practice.  He needed the friend.

 

Kel took a step into Phil’s room, first, and sat by his side—and cried.  Quiet and deep.   He soon found himself talking to Phil, even sharing a bit as to who it was that was talking to him.  It was strange and unreal to Kel, as he stood watching the young man that mirrored his exact face and body—it was as if watching himself on life-support, yet, as he reached over and held Phil’s hand, it bore witness that it was all very real.  It was hard to leave, and even harder still, knowing that he’d be the one doing more surgery on Phil.  Having now moved-on since the blatant shock of his first encounter with Phil, Kel would entrust no one else to do so--yet, Doctor Jones, and Joe Early, would be by his side.  

 

Passing the General’s under-cover security guards, on the way out, Kel couldn’t help but be relieved that he had ended-up being the one that was raised by his folks.  What if it had been the other way around, he pondered--and pondered into a sea of introspective thoughts that would go on for the weeks to come.  Phil must have had an awful hard life, trying to dunk-under, and out of “dare to be defied” Daryl Duncan’s way.  Fully armed with the full story, Kel was now ready to dump it from his arms, into Dixie’s lap—the General and all.

 


~*~  CHAPTER THREE  ~*~

 

“…AND BABY MAKES FOUR”

 

 

 

“It’s kind of unbelievable, Dixie, but this is how it goes…” Kel started, but stalled out.

 

Heavy thought had gotten the best of him, as it occasionally could, no matter what the subject.  To Dixie, the subject was clear now—he had a brother, a twin, but it was all too new to hear these words come out of his own mouth, yet he was learning to.  She could wait, when situations warranted it.   Perhaps a little more thought, just now would pave the way.  Kel was more relaxed than he had felt in days, and she knew that—but  Phil was now more and more heavy on his mind, in spite of his long hours at his brother’s side.  She watched as he slowly slipped away from his lead-in to her, and drifted back to Phil:

 

 I find out that I have this twin brother… part of my mysterious dreams from childhood about my mom’s troubles, and what do I do… I walk out and leave him at his hour of need, and another Doctor ends up saving his life for me… I was useless to him.  But then… I didn’t know he was my twin… so then,  there I was failing a patient, though, either way I look at it.  Why is this happening now?  Why did this have to happen in the first place.  Yet… if it had NOT, then I’d never know about this.   I’d most likely have those odd family dreams, until just like my father, I die and pass on.  I always felt like something was wrong between my folks… but I couldn’t place my finger on it.  Is that why it’s so hard for me to release myself fully to Dixie?  Relationships are just too complex, was all I ever thought.  Being a doctor, was it for me… you see what to do, and you set-out to fix it.  But relationships, now… and the complications of the human emotions, and mind-sets, why that’s not as easy to fix.  Yeah… my folks always had some kind of odd tension and I’m not about to risks me and Dixie having a falling-out, by drawing her too close… someday, maybe… but not now… who knows though… this may be part of a long lost healing for me, too… not just my folk’s history.  Anyway, it’s too late for their healing… they’re gone… but Phil, if he lives, he sure could use it.  It’s not about help for his self-consumed  adopted father, though, I can see that as clearly as I see  Dixie  staring at me for being a shut-up clam... staring back at her equals hot water, and has, time and time again.

 

“Introspecting again, perhaps, Kel?  I thought you’d completely forgotten that I was here.  I see we’ve made eye contact at long last, though.”  Dixie waited for her well-placed words to sink in better.  A little brash boldness was needed now.  Yep, she knew how to fish, and Kel knew it too—and Dixie now witnessed his small smile.  “Kel, you’re tighter than a clam, for Pete’s sake…didn’t you hear me?  Now let’s have it… you came here to talk, I know it… sure, a good meal ticket helped, but you know I’m here to support you when you’re in need.  I’m just hoping you’ll open up before this brings us into the light of day… we work tomorrow, Doctor, remember?” she sent her sarcastic barb into his willing side, and was grateful for his response—it showed on his face first and was soon to come in full.

 

Kel and Dixie sat on the sofa, and Kel leaned back watching where he sat his drink, and he started to unfold the story that the General had, without emotion, passed on to him as if he was passing-on an old dusty report from the archives of an old attic box—which, in a sense, he was.  Kel’s rendition of it, displayed far more than the General’s old archive version—his was more in the way of a priceless antique, needing restoration:

 

“When I was born, I had company, Dix,” Kel said wryly, with a boyish grin.

 

“I think I’ve gathered that much by now, Kel,” her deep voice and personal version of humor, comforted him, as she softly answered back, into the softness of the room, adding a very hard, “and?”

 

It was hard, yes, both her invitation and the story to be unfolded, but the softness of the room quite-rightly helped.  This wasn’t some clear and to-the-point medical-fix that he was about to display, but he was pressing on now, and oddly he was glad that he could.  Dixie was a great sounding-board, and soother—at least, when he decided to let her fully be one:

 

“When we were born, my mother was very sick, Dixie… and I had heard that part of this story, before.  Somehow, her health had always been an issue, too.  I never knew why, though.  I just pushed it aside.  Well,” he firmly, but carefully dealt out, “she and my father had to face the fact that we, Phil and I were not in good health either… we were born too early.”   He stopped, “health… it made a damn good Doctor out of me, though, didn’t it?”  He went on, “Phil needed special care and they couldn’t afford it.  My mother finally decided to give him up for adoption rather than risk his life… at least she could keep one us.  Perhaps that was why she had twins, she had reasoned.  One, given to her to love, and one, for another.  She had met Arabella Duncan a few years before, and they had become like sisters.  But that Sherman-tank out there, running all over Rampart,” Kel spoke of Daryl and his newest recent chore, “moved her to and fro, wherever his whims took him, as he climbed in rank.  Well, they finally settled in Texas, and turned out her first child had died, and she and my mother took to talking long hours on the phone—compliments of the Do-or-Die kid,” Kel mocked, but just a bit.  He looked up at Dixie, who was still listening patiently, “well, he could PAY for it, you see?”

 

“Yes, Kel, I see.  Go on.”  She poured him another drink.

 

“It was my mother’s decision to adopt Phil out to her friend, Arabella.  They could afford his care, and the General, or the NEW General, having just received the honor, wanted a son, and had been moody since the loss of his own.”  Kel thought of Phil, once again.  “You know, Dixie… Phil had just come back from war… his best buddy had died.  He made it through a damn war, and lived… and now, doing a good deed for a friend… that buddy, he’s gunned down.   The General learned that from a pastor in Victorville…seems Phil had a note…a last request to see through.  The pastor filled him in on the whole story… he learned more of it all from some gal that Phil had run into.  He was on a quest for that friend… and now?”  Kel’s disgust got the better of him, and he changed the subject, “they buried two coffins that day.  You realize that, don’t you?  The General set it all up.  That Phil Duncan is dead, and that’s how it stands.   Old Do-or-Die over there, wants no connection of his name linked to that crowd.  No one in that group, not even the pastor, knows that Phil lived, Dixie.” 

 

Kel stood up and walked around the room and then leaned against the wall.  The odds of his twin brother falling into his lap, by way of his hospital, and after all these years, was chalked-up at God-given, in his book—and Kel took good stock in his books.  Why it had to happen this was, though, was beyond him.   He would have much rather preferred a small tiny family skeleton-key to have opened this long lost trunk of knowledge:

 

Kel choked up some, “the man that shot my brother, was gunned down by the police… seemed he was ready to take anyone-and-everyone down so not to get caught for murder.  I can’t help but wonder what the General would do if that man was still alive, Dix.  How would make him face a murder charge with a live victim?  The General would have had some other plan, no doubt…I wonder just how powerful he is, Dix?”

 

“Kel…” Dix prompted to step in to offer some support, but Kel wasn’t ready, he still was trying to keep the inevitable thought of another outcome, at bay—one that grieved him greatly.

 

 “On the other hand...” his voice faded as he moved from the wall and started to pacing, only to end-up against another wall.  “…On the other hand,” he swallowed hard, “they could have really buried Phil that day, and what would the General have done then?”  Kel looked over at Dixie oddly, with a twisted brow, “what would I be doing right now?  I wouldn’t be at his funeral, for one thing… and no one would be looking for me inviting me, for another.  And I wouldn’t be here, that’s for sure…discussing a brother that I, for all intents and purposes, would not even have.”

 

“But you DO have him, Kel…and this is your groundwork now, okay?  Your foundation to accepting this, and rejoining his life.  He still has a chance of pulling through this.”

 

“Yeah, that’s what we’re all pulling for Dix… thanks Dix,” Kel nodded.  “Phil could have died before he hit the ground…or he could have died after I saw him through that DOA…I know that.  I’d have a dead brother right now.  And… I’d have felt to blame for his dying on my table, too, if it so happened…me walking out and all.  Worse yet… if he’d have died out there in the desert, and our chopper program wasn’t needed… they would have taken him to Victorville, most likely.  I’d have never known him, or of him, and I’d be right back to where I just left off.”  His deep voice dished out the harsh reality, “not having this discussion… not crying for my brother,” Kel looked up humbly, “…and not praying by his bedside.”

 

“Oh, Kel… look, Kel, we can talk again tomorrow, if this is too hard,” she approached him.

 

Kel threw a wadded-up napkin across the nearby counter, with mixed emotions running through him, “Dix… they’re living a lie, just like I was.  There were a few handfuls of friends that he had, and apparently they showed up for his funeral and for his buddy’s, too.  Now, he’s gone to them, just like he was gone to me.  From what they said, though, these were just a few new acquaintances, even a gal… but still… they’re left to believe he’s dead… gone.  The difference was that he was gone to be by a quirk of fate to me, not by a secret plan from some high-ranking four-star General.”

 

 Kel came back to the sofa, seeking rest for his feelings in its inviting comfort.  “My mother suddenly lost contact, with Arabella because Arabella died.   The General received a few letters and just threw them away… he was too crushed at losing his wife… listening to thoughts of happy homes, was not for him.   He had a nanny raise Phil, since he himself never had time for him.  Phil had lots of buddies at some nearby horse ranch, but he never fit in with the crowd that his father wanted him to toe the mark with.”

 

“I for one, don’t blame Phil’s choice, Kel… after our few weeks of the General’s displays, I’m ready to ship him off to the Siberia, or the French Foreign Legion.”  Dixie kicked off her shoes and curled up in a blanket on the sofa, and relaxed now—Kel was opening up—hallelujah, was clearly in her mind.  She had done a right-nice job of being her own general, and the victory was now being seen.

 

“The damn idiot never got in touch with my mother, can you believe it Dix?  Can you understand what I’m saying?  He ruined our lives… I could have had a brother all these years, and now, I’ve only got a dying one.  What kind of man would do that?”

 

Dixie drew closer and took aim with her tough spirit, “Kel, a lost selfish, lonely man, I would say.  Look… he lost his first son, he lost his wife, and he’s just reached his highest goal, finally at a General’s rank, and who does have in the way of family?… now WHAT do you expect from the man.”  She drew back, adding, “I don’t approve of the man, but those are the foundational facts, Kel.”

 

Kel sat there a minute analyzing it all, “yeah, those ARE the facts, Dix… facts.  So, where was I?  Facts?  Facts.   My mother never talked of Phil, to me… not ever.  Occasionally I’d catch her crying, but I was just a little boy… and I’d catch words spoken… things like, ‘why doesn’t she call or write… what could have happened?  She’d never stop calling… something’s wrong.  What about our son?’  Kel shook his head just a bit, “I just figured she was talking about my grandmother and how she didn’t write to me enough, Dix.  I didn’t mind, you know.  She always wrote as far as I was concerned, and I even tried to tell my mother that very FACT… and she’d just cry and tell me I was so wonderful.”  Kel near melted inside as he thought on the comfort of those reassured times of sharing, but quickly got back on track.  “Well, now, that’s the best thing a kid can here, and more kids should be so lucky.  Phil should have been so lucky, Dix, but he wasn’t. 

 

Now, Kel’s words hung in the air.  The room settled, as the clouds of damage passed by, and Kel took another step forward.

 

“Well,” he continued, “after those mother-and-son talks,   the subject was always dropped for months on end.  And then years, and as the saying goes, time passes on and told no tales.  It wasn’t until my father was dying that he said my mother had something she was going to tell me, but he died unexpectedly and never had the chance… all he could do was tell me to get that photo out of his things, and by then, it was too late for him to talk.”  Kel rubbed his brow hard, between his eyes.  “He never told me because he didn’t know how, Dix… I know that now.  During all those years of my medical studies and career growing, he’d come around and try and talk about all kinds of odd things… things that seemed to lead somewhere, but never did.  Now I know why.  He was trying to tell me about Phil.  But it was my mother’s place to do, and he just couldn’t overstep it.  He felt ashamed and the longer he dragged it on, the more he justified that it was too late anyway… I was too caught up in my studies, and then my career… I was too indifferent to his needs, so most likely he thought I’d be too indifferent to an unknown brother, as well.  When he failed to tell me each year, the more his shame grew.  I also believe that she wanted to be the one to tell me, and when she died unexpectedly, we all missed out.  Now, of course, they’re both gone, and I would have spent my life never knowing about my twin brother, Dix, and then this happened from out of the blue.” 

 

Kel took the wine bottle to the kitchen sink now, and Dixie followed him there, and they sat on the stools around the counter top.  Kel didn’t always prefer her little kitchen table, it depended on which way his thoughts were flowing, and she suspected that he felt less trapped, this time, at the counter.

 

“The General claims that he did want to look us up when Phil was getting lost at the horse ranches all the times.  He thought maybe real blood kin would have helped him not feel so alone.  Trouble was, by then, he had no idea where to find us and didn’t want to risk ruining his good up-and-coming-name, if we turned out to be black sheep of the family, so to speak.  Watching out for his name sure made him powerful… look at him now.  Rampart’s on her knees, and there’s been a double funeral played out.”

 

“Kel… it would appear that you and your brother learned the values of loyalty, honor and friendship, by learning to make friends somewhere in the midst of your struggles…. Whether they were a young boy’s striving to please an un-pleasable father, or a young medical student trying to please his career.  Friends and family were found in your surroundings.  You eventually found family structure here at Rampart.  I wonder what Phil’s were, then.”

 

“Part of his family was his buddy… the one that died.  And, part was the horses in Texas…but from what I’ve learned from the ‘good General’, the man’s own kids have kids now, the General said that Phil was reluctant to come home… seemed he didn’t want to push himself into the man’s family time with his grandkids… even though from what I heard, he’d be most welcome.  He did want to do his duty and go to see his adopted father, though… yet from there, his future was all in doubt.  But, you see, Dixie… he understands not to damage relationships… families, or a friend’s.  I’ve learned a lot about my brother from what the General told me, and from what that pastor told me too… and from what my heart tells me about him.  This war, and then coming home, seems like it left Phil at a bit of a turning-point, and he was stalled-out, and not sure what was left to him next.  It could have been entirely different if we had known each other, Dix, but that’s not what happened.  He was shot doing his duty to a friend.  Little does he know… his duty led him to me.  It led him home, in a way, Dix.” 

 

Kel moved to window, and peeked out into the dark, and turned back to Dixie and stood there thinking for a long time, as she watched him.  He moved her direction now, revealing a bit of hidden Kel-nature--the complex doctor kind,--the kind that desires to heal the human body, to one’s utmost ability:

 

“Life is a lot deeper and complex than it appears on the surface, that’s for sure… our actions are like a wave from the ocean, continually touching many shores.  It was just my shores turn now, Dix.  My brother reached me.  It’s my turn to reach him, now.”

 

“So now what, Kel?  We’ve still got the General and his say in all this.  Phil’s not going to be well for a long time, he’s going to need therapy, and he may not even remember most of his past now, as it is… Joe said he obviously will have some brain damage to deal with… it could be months too, for him to get back on his feet again, and his spine has tremendous nerve damage, yet to heal.  Once he’s ready to leave, the General’s not going to want him around here, it would expose his lie.  Where will you and your brother go from here, now, Kel?”

 

Kel stared at her blankly, “I don’t know, Dix… I just don’t know.  It will be like starting all over again for him, from scratch… maybe now, I’m to be part of it.  No… not maybe.  I WILL be part of it.  Maybe the years we missed out on, have been given back to us now.  If the General moves him to Texas, than I have to face that.  Phil won’t have much say in the matter, as he’ll be rebuilding his life, and will need lots of help.  Let’s just say, though, that no matter WHAT the General plans, I’m part of it now.  I may not earn what a General makes, but I make a salary worthy to keep in touch with my brother.  Now that I have one, I don’t intend to lose him.  I failed him in that operating room, but I’ll not fail now.”

 

Dixie, sensing Kelly had shared enough for one night, helped see him to the door.  Just as he was leaving, she pulled him back by the collar and gave him a kiss, along with something a lot more precious.

 

“Here you go, Doctor… you’ll need this for your next operation…”

 

“What?” he peered over at her, a bit bewildered.

 

She pulled the old photo that Joe had held in safe keeping, “your folks… and baby makes four, remember?”

 

Kel took the photo, and held it in his hand, staring down at two little twins from years gone by.  One was now in the full brim of his life’s goal, and one was now, at life’s full brim of passing on—never fully realizing a goal.  But one would come, just as surly as Phil had resurfaced into Kelly Brackett’s life.  Baby had made four in Kel’s family, for a reason, and it wasn’t to be a lost part of history, and it wasn’t to be shot in the desert to die.  Phil was a sign to folks, he always had been, even as his twin Kelly was.  A sign of integrity, sealed with their bond.  A man is a man of honor, no matter what he has come through, or where he is going.  He’s here to do a duty and do it he will—if he’s truly what a man should be.  Kelly Bracket spoke his life, to Rampart.  Phil Duncan had spoke his life to a man’s family on a horse ranch, and to his black buddy that had affections for a beloved souped-up-chopper, and lastly, to an odd assortment of folks from a very vivid way of life.  He was soon to show that baby made four indeed—and this “baby”, this double birth of Kel and Phil, would be doing double-duty, as Phil’s life would now be a sign to his adopted father, while Kelly’s went on to be a sign, to Phil.  It would take time, but Phil was going to get a second chance to reach a goal, too.  The goal of being rooted somewhere where he belonged.  Sign-posts, sure-enough can be read loud-and-clear, even when placed on their own spread, instead of on every lost rabbit trail and dangerous rocky ledge.  Yep, this spiritually and physically war-worn man, was on his way to being settled.


~*~  CHAPTER FOUR  ~*~

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR, THE TEXAS WAY

 

 

 

There was still a few Christmas decorations scattered around Rampart as the feel of the New Year was now in the air.  Roy and Johnny had long ceased going out on helicopter training maneuvers, but still kept in contact with the new friends that they had met in the process.   Phil had come out of the coma, months ago, and had been doing therapy with his father by his side--who was earnestly trying to help Phil remember his life and piece this life back together.  Shockingly so, yet not to Dixie--as she had pummeled Daryl Duncan unmercifully with words, in regards to his behavior toward his injured son, and—he had begun to soften and repent.  Her case-study of General Do-or-Dye Duncan (Daryl, to them now) was now being seen as true from many angles.   His heart was starting to break as he watched Phil struggle through his helpless stages that seemed to drag on forever.  Yep, Daryl Duncan had lost a lot from putting his career first, and now the one thing that was given to him, to replace one of those losses, was finally seen as precious—precious in its own right, or better said, in his own right.  Phil Duncan—rightly said.  His son—a precious gift from Mr. and Mrs. Brackett, so long ago.  Finally seen, General Duncan was starting to let his ego die-out, but was it too late?  In some ways, perhaps, yet, in others maybe not.  There was a relationship of fatherhood being built into Phil’s life now, and he needed now, more than ever.  His grit and tenacity had gotten him through his childhood, and his tender heart and regard for honor, and put the finishing touches on his character—but what he needed now, was a firm foundation to rebuilt on. 

 

As Phil and Daryl rebuilt together, Kelly Brackett was grafted in—right where he had always belonged.  It was a very hard chore for Phil to understand that he had a brother all this time, but it was easier to rebuild freshly, than for him to have had to rebuild with the huge rift that was so long-standing between him and his adopted father.   After these months in the hospital, Phil had regained most of his mental awareness and was talking, eating and caring for himself, once again, and learning to read and write.  Because of this, the holiday season had seemed all the more special this year, first, during the Thanksgiving holiday, and then during Christmas hours, and Dixie had purposely kept the festive Christmas decorations up for the passing-of-the-year.  Now, as the New Year was ready to bust-out into a bubbling shout, and Kel was the first to salute it’s ushering in. 

 

The General stepped back for the evening, as Kel, having planned ahead to have no work for this night, now spent it alone with his brother.  They had a lot of sharing to do, well, Kel did—as Phil didn’t have much of his life’s memories fully reclaimed to share, and most likely he never would.  Never-the-less, this was Kelly Brackett’s New Year of new life, even as it was his brother’s.  He had gained a lost brother, and his life would never be the same.  This was truly a New Year such as he had never sought to imagine, and what better way to spend it than to give this night, this New Year gift back to his brother—it would be time fitly spent, and would become a time always looked back on during their future years.  It’s not often that one gets a second chance at life, and Kelly Brackett, the healer, was going to make sure that Phil’s new life would be set on this firm, a new foundation would last their life time—and it would.

 

Later in the early April, Phil moved back to Texas with the General.  Seems Daryl Duncan had worked-out for Phil to stay on at the beloved horse-ranch of his childhood and teen years.  Turned out that Phil’s concerns over intruding in the man’s life were a young boy’s fears, only—not yet freed in his manhood.   The way had appeared as a new open door, just waiting to be tried, as upon hearing that the General was oddly staying in town—in the past, highly unlike him—the man had approached the General about Phil and his whereabouts.  Hadn’t Phil gone to war?  Upon the General filling the man in, Phil was invited to live on at the ranch as family.  Yep, the man had always considered Phil as equal to any of his sons that one could take their pick of, in town, or out.   He was even welcomed to work towards owning some of the horses, and the General would be near enough, right next door—seemed Phil was finding himself with two fathers, in an unexpected way, never seen before.   Now, being that it was painfully obvious to all, that Phil had a severe limp on his left side and at times resorted to using a crutch, and he took medication for bad side-lining head aches, couldn’t really read or write as much as he’d hope to, and also suffered lost spells on occasions whenever he faced certain chores, so it took some tactful convincing-skills to get Phil to accept the invite to stay at the ranch—his introspective ‘ol self was at first ready to politely bow out, as he wondered if he could pull his weight in the manner of ranch work.  But he yielded--once an emotional welcome home party, put him to ease. 

 

Kelly Brackett was part of the move—he had to be—he had been part of the healing.  Kel had to set his brother’s root firm, before he could let go of him this time.   As a baby, he had then had no say in the matter, yet his mother’s say preserved Phil’s new-born life at that time, and Kel had accepted this—there were no more dreams of his tormented mother, mourning a mysterious loss.  With Kel back at Rampart now, after his quick Texas visit, Phil’s new life was moving into success now, and being with these beloved horses was the sealing balm of love.  Phil had a knack with the horses and began to give horse-care lessons, and riding lessons when his body was up to it.  Always to the man’s grandkids, first, with the local kids and adults, second. 

 

Phil Duncan never rode a souped-up-chopper again, though he had short faint recollections of having been on one, and a few fond memories of the buddy that had once owned it.  He had no memory of the fight, the gang involved, or of being shot, nor of the gal that he shared his brief affections for—yet at times when he dared risk setting his leg and back to-ache, he’d take off on a full gallop on horseback, and vivid memories of Yosemite would flash through his mind, and the beauty of the good Lord above would touch his heart.  He saw the power of what God had done for him, and no man would take his joy.  This was a happy new year alright, and that, he had come to see, and each year got better, being that--Kel would spend at least two weeks out of each New Year’s first January days, that followed throughout their lives, and two weeks in summer, as well, here in Texas, under the seeming-endless crisp-white-clouded skies--riding at a gallop, by his twin brother’s side.    

 

 

Inspired by Robert Fuller’s most-marvelous portrayal of Phil Duncan

And his most-grand portrayal of Kelly Brackett, MD.

 

And told, by Neebeeshaabookway

 

 

 

LOBBYADMISSIONS•HOLIDAYS
www.000webhost.com