by CP Briar
“Brian take this bag of fruit in case you and Matthew get hungry”, Dr. Mike said as Brian was heading out the door with his fishing pole.
“Okay Ma, we’ll be back for supper. What are you gonna make for supper Colleen?”
“You’ll see when you get back! Now go before the fish are all gone!” said Colleen.
“Bye, be careful,”, Dr. Mike said to Brian as he joined Matthew and they headed off. Dr. Mike was glad the two brothers spent a lot of time together, she was glad they had each other. She was also glad to spend some time with Colleen, she knew Colleen appreciated having time, just the two of them.
“Well, did you want to work on your new dress?”, asked Dr. Mike.
“Sure, I’ll get it”, replied Colleen.
“I’ll put the kettle on for tea. Your dress will be so nice when it’s finished. The holidays will be here before you know it. Have you any ideas of something I could give Sully..”, asked Dr.Mike as she put tea cups on the table.
Colleen spread the new dress on the bed and sat down running her fingers over the material, “For Sully......that’s a hard one, you can’t make him anything, except food, he likes food.”
Dr.Mike smiled, “Yes! I’m afraid my food wouldn’t be his first choice however.......oh I don’t know, let’s see that dress. The material is so beautiful!”
“You know, your cooking will get better Dr. Mike, you sewing has, and I’m sure you’ll think of something for Sully. Maybe he’ll ask you to marry him and give you an engagement ring for Christmas!”, Colleen said smiling at Dr. Mike.
“Ah, I don’t think so Colleen. Sully and I are friends........that’s all”, she said. The water boiled for tea and Dr. Mike turned to prepare the tea. Colleen shook her head at Dr. Mike’s statement, she’d seen the way they looked at each other.
“Let’s have some apple cake with cream with our tea”, Dr. Mike said as she opened the cupboard, “Oh, there isn’t any cream........I know Brian milked the cow, where did he put the pitcher?”
“You know Brian, he was thinking about going fishing and he probably left it in the barn, I’ll go get it”, Colleen said as she opened the door.
Dr. Mike carried the teapot to the table and sat down. She glanced at her left hand and smiled, and then laughed thinking an engagement ring from Sully was the last thing she would receive.
Colleen swung the barn door open and saw the pitcher in the corner of the stall, “Oh Brian.......”, she said.
“Hold it right there Missy”, a deep voice came from the corner.
Colleen froze and slowly looked to the corner, “What do you want?”
“I just need some money and a horse. I don’t want to hurt you. You got a husband in the house or something?”, the man asked as he walked out of the corner and Colleen could see he had a pistol pointed at her.
“No......there’s no husband.......I’ll give you some money if you leave......please, just leave....”, Colleen stood still.
“Good no husband, let’s go in the house little lady”, he walked closer and Colleen could see that he wasn’t old, maybe about Sully’s age, and he wore a cowboy hat.
“Please.....don’t hurt me......just take a horse...”, Colleen pleaded, but he pulled her arm and led her outside. She pulled away slightly, “Listen missy do as I say”, he said as he moved closer to her. Colleen looked out towards the woods to see if anyone was approaching the house, but there was no one. They walked to the house, opened the door and went in.
“Did Brian...........who are you!”, asked a startled Dr. Mike.
“I’m your new friend, who are you?”, the man said smiling at Dr. Mike, the gun still on Colleen, “sit down at the table, both of you, now!”
Dr. Mike and Colleen both sat down and pushed their chairs closer to the corner of the table to be closer to each other. Dr. Mike was trying to think of some way to overpower this man, “What do you want?”, she asked.
“You got any money? I need money and a horse. You see I was just gonna take a horse but missy here, she come out to the barn and interrupted me.........ain’t that a shame?”, he said as he stared down at Dr. Mike.
“You can have all the money I have”, Dr. Mike said pointing to her bureau, “it’s in there, I’ll get it”.
The man motioned with the pistol for her to go to the bureau, “Don’t you do anything wise now, or I will fire this gun”, he said to Colleen and then he turned to Dr. Mike who was looking through the top drawer. He looked at Dr. Mike, her hair flowing down her back. His eyes traveled up and down her body, he tipped his hat back and gave a wink to Colleen. “You know, you ladies sure are pretty! You livin’ out here all alone? My, my I think you need a man around here”.
Dr. Mike turned to Colleen and then to the man, “Here’s my money, now leave us alone, please”.
“Why? I think I’ll stay and visit for awhile”, he moved closer and put his hand to Dr. Mike’s face. She turned away and he was angry, “Don’t you look away from me. What’s the matter, I ain’t good enough for ya? Or maybe you never had a real man.....is that it?”
Dr. Mike became frightened, but tried not to show it, “Take the money, get a horse and leave!”, she screamed at him. Colleen was nervous and stood up quickly knocking a tea cup to the floor which startled the man. Dr. Mike ran to the door, opened it and ran onto the porch, she screamed, “Colleen, run, get away!”
Colleen ran out the back door and out past the chicken coop, she ran as fast as she could knowing she had to find help. She saw Sully walking with Matthew and Brian, “Help! Dr. Mike’s in trouble!”, she yelled at them. Sully ran to her, “What? Where is she?”, Sully asked as he held Colleen’s arms.
She tried to catch her breath, “There’s a man....at the homestead...he has a gun. Dr Mike’s in the house with him!”
“Oh my God!” said Matthew.
“Matthew, take Brian and Colleen and go into town,” Sully said as Colleen grabbed onto Matthew. Brian picked up the fishing poles. “Sully you gonna help Ma?”
“Yes, Brian, now go”, ordered Sully. Then a shot rang out. Sully ran towards the homestead with the children close behind. Sully stopped behind the chicken coop, “You kids stay back here, don’t go anywhere you hear me?” All three heads nodded in agreement as they huddled together with Matthew’s protective arms around Colleen and Brian. Then they heard Dr. Mike screaming and Sully crept to the back of the house.
“No please!” Dr. Mike screamed at the man. He grabbed her arm and shoved her onto the bed, as she tried to get up he grabbed her again by the front of her blouse, several buttons popped off and he scratched at her skin, grabbing the lace strap to her camisole. Dr. Mike ended up on the floor and tried to crawl away, but the man continued grabbing, this time it was her skirt, tearing it. He tried to hold her leg but she pulled it away and he scraped his nails down her thigh.
“Please leave, leave me alone!” she screamed but she knew it was no use, he wouldn’t stop.
He pulled her up by her arms, “Stop giving me such a fight little lady!” He tried to kiss her, but she pushed him away. He pulled on her collar and ripped it, then he grabbed the camisole. She tried to push his hands away and he dug his fingers into her chest, “Aghh!” she screamed as she hit his hand away. She lunged to the table, where he had laid his pistol, she grabbed it and as she turned he ran into her.
“No, no, please!” she screamed as he struggled with her for the pistol. He squeezed her wrist and tried to twist her arm, she kicked his leg,
“Why you...” He pulled her arm down.
“No!” Dr. Mike screamed and the pistol fired. Dr. Mike fell to the floor as did the man. Gasping for air and trying to stand up, Dr. Mike could only sob, “No...please help me...”
Sully ran to the front of the house and kicked the door open. To his horror he saw Dr. Mike and the man on the floor, blood on both of them. He knelt on the floor next to Dr. Mike. “Michaela....it’s all right...”, he said softly trying to assess her injuries and trying to locate the pistol.
“Ah, get him...get him away from me!” she screamed, trying to swing her arms. Sully tried to roll her onto her back, but she was resistant, trying instead to crawl to the man. “Who is he? Get him away from me!” she screamed again and then she laid on the floor.
“Dr. Mike....” Sully said trying again to roll her over or at least letting her know that he was there. She finally looked up at him and he saw the horror in her eyes.
“Sully!” she screamed, as if she had just realized he was there. She pushed herself up to a sitting position and Sully felt the blood drain from his own face as he looked at her. Her blouse was ripped open to her skirt, the left shoulder was torn away, her camisole was shredded covering vivid scratch marks across her chest to her left shoulder. She put out her hands to him, “Sully....help me....”.
“I’m here.....you’re all right,” he assured her as he took her hands, “can you stand up?”
“I think so,” she said as she lifted her right foot and exposed her blood covered leg. Sully shook his head as he gently touched her knee. As she tried to stand, she fell back down. Sully then stood and scooped her up into his arms, he held her tight and felt himself start to tremble at the thought that he might easily have been lifting a dead body instead of this injured one. He carried her outside, not wanting to be near the man. He looked up to see Jake and Hank riding up in a wagon, with Matthew in the back.
“What happened? Is she alive?” asked Hank as he looked at Michaela in Sully’s arms. Jake looked at the way Sully was on his knees and the firm hold he had on Michaela. “Who did this?”
Sully asked them to go into the house and put the man in the wagon and take him into town. He also told them he wasn’t sure if he was alive, there was gunfire. Matthew stood back for a moment, when Jake and Hank went into the house, Sully looked at Matthew, “She’s alive, but she’s been hurt, there’s a lot of blood. You’re going to have to go and take the quilt off the bed and get me some towels so I can clean her up.”
Jake and Hank came back out carrying the man, “He’s gone,” said Jake, “does she need stitches, I can do them.”
Hank walked over to Sully, “Did he.......there sure is a lot of blood.....are you sure she’s okay?”
“No, I’m not sure, but I’m gonna take care of her. Colleen will help”, and he stood up and carried her to the house. Hank and Jake left with the man in the wagon.
Sully gently put Dr. Mike on the bed. Matthew left to get Colleen and Brian, who must have been terribly worried out behind the barn. Sully looked over Dr. Mike’s injuries. He didn’t see anything that looked like a bullet wound. He knew the blood needed to be cleaned up, so he walked to the kitchen to gather towels and a basin of water.
“Don’t leave me! Sully!”, Dr Mike sat up in bed screaming. Sully ran to her and sat on the edge of the bed, “It’s okay”, he said, “I’m here, I’m not going anywhere.”
“Hold me, I’m scared......please hold me”, she cried into his arms. He held her and she grabbed onto his shirt and cried into his chest. The children came in and Sully motioned for Matthew, “Take Brian into town. Colleen will have to stay and help clean Dr. Mike’s wounds”. Matthew nodded. Brian said, “Sully, did that man make Ma bleed all over?”
“Your Ma’s gonna be okay Brian, Colleen is gonna clean her all up and she’ll be okay, don’t you worry”, he tried to sound calm for the boy.
“Promise”?”, asked Brian.
“Promise”, replied Sully.
Colleen wiped her tears, washed her hands and brought a basin over to the bedside. Sully tried to stand, but Dr.Mike would not release him. “Dr Mike, I’m gonna go on the other side of the bed. I ain’t leaving. Colleen needs to help ya get cleaned up. Everything is okay”, he said as he patted her head and held her gently to him.
Sully sat on the other side of the bed and Colleen put a wet cloth on Dr. Mike’s neck and chest. Dr. Mike tried to pull the sleeve down her arm and then just fell back on the pillow and Colleen gently pulled the blood soaked camisole down. Sully stared down at the floor but he looked up when he heard Colleen whisper, “Oh my g.....”.
Sully saw Colleen’s eyes fill with tears and he became filled with anger, “How bad?” he whispered to Colleen.
“Bad”, she said softly as she gently wiped the blood away and tried to see how deep the scratches were, “But she doesn’t need stitches. She’ll have terrible bruises on her breast though, you can still the hand prints.........”.
Sully took a deep breath, trying to control his anger. Dr Mike stirred and Sully looked into her eyes. “She looks like she’s in a trance or something”, he said to Colleen.
“Shock”, Colleen said as she nodded her head, “better that way for now, least til I clean her up. Sully, go to the dresser and get her a night shift please.”
Sully walked to the dresser, opened the drawer and as he touched Dr. Mike’s things he started to cry. He took a deep breath and stopped the tears, but he knew he could crumble to the ground he felt so heartsick. He held up a piece of clothing, “This?”, he asked Colleen. Colleen nodded.
“Now you’re gonna have to hold her up while I take her skirt off”, Colleen said as she undid Dr. Mike’s belt. Sully slid his arms under her back and Dr. Mike moaned softly, “It’s okay...”, he said to her. Sully lifted her and Colleen slid the skirt and petticoat down to her feet. Sully breathed deep and felt the tears come again, Dr. Mike’s undergarments were ripped, exposing blood on her right thigh. Sully gently placed her down on the bed, “Give me those clothes, I’m gonna go burn ‘em”, he said, anger in his voice. Colleen handed him the torn and bloodied clothing. Sully went outside and walked out behind the chicken coop and then he fell to his knees clutching the clothing to his chest and sobbed. It devastated him to see Dr. Mike like this. He looked up to the heavens and composed himself, he knew he needed to be strong for her. He looked at the clothes and threw them to the ground. How could any man do this to a woman, he wondered. It was a good thing the man was dead, because Sully was sure he would have killed him. He gathered a few twigs and leaves and burned the bloody reminder of this horrible event. He stayed staring into the flames, knowing Colleen needed private time to attend to Dr. Mike’s wounds. Matthew came up behind him, “What are ya burning?”
“Your Ma’s clothes. The one that monster touched”, Sully said still staring at the shrinking flames.
“Uhm....Brian’s with Mr. Bray, he can stay there as long as we need him too. Is there something I should do Sully?”
“No......just help Colleen......she’s gonna have to take care of Dr. Mike”, Sully said making sure the last flame was extinguished, “let’s go see how they’re doing”.
Colleen looked up from the bed, Dr. Mike was sleeping and looked peaceful. Colleen had placed some gauze on her neck and chest. “How is she?”, asked Matthew.
Colleen shrugged her shoulders, “Gotta watch for infection, the scratches are real bad.”
Sully stood at the foot of the bed and stared at Dr. Mike. He’d never seen this strong woman so wounded. He felt helpless, he didn’t know what to do to help her. Colleen gathered the towels and cleaned the basin. She went out the back door to put the towels in the laundry tub.
“Why would a man do this Sully?”, asked Matthew.
“Sometimes a man just thinks of himself Matthew. He doesn’t care if he hurts people. He just acts, doesn’t think about it’, Sully said and then looked at Matthew, “but it’s never right to do this a woman, you know that don’t you?”
“Of course I know that”, replied Matthew. Sully sighed and walked to the side of the bed and looked down at Dr. Mike sleeping.
He turned and walked back towards the table, “Sully......Sully......are you here?”, Dr. Mike said softly.
Sully turned around, “I’m right here, you’re safe. Get some rest now.”
“Please don’t leave”, she said as she held up her hand to him, “stay here, promise me...”
“I’m right here”, he said as he sat on the edge of the bed and held her hand, “don’t worry, no one will hurt you or the children.”
Colleen sat at the table, tears coming down her cheeks. Matthew sat next to her, “Are you okay? Don’t be afraid....it’s over and you and Dr. Mike are safe.” Colleen wiped her face and nodded to Matthew.
“I think I’ll lay down if that’s okay. If Dr. Mike needs me, just get me...”, said Colleen as she walked to her bed.
Matthew walked to Sully, “You are going to stay here aren’t you?”
Sully nodded as he caressed Dr. Mike’s hand, “Yes, I wouldn’t tell her I’d be here and then leave, I couldn’t do that. Just bring a chair over here please and I’ll be fine.” Matthew brought the chair over, “I’ll sleep in Brian’s bed”, he said softly as he looked at Dr. Mike and then nodded to Sully.
Several hours later the silence was broken by Dr. Mike moaning and stirring in the bed. Sully awoke in the chair and sat near her. She awoke and sat up and threw her arms around Sully. “Shh, you had a dream. You’re okay”, Sully said rubbing her back.
“Sully...what if someone else comes looking for him......”, she said as she touched the bandage on her chest, “ Sully, don’t leave.....please.”
“I been here all along.......I’m not leaving you”, Sully said as he held her gently against his chest.
Matthew walked closer to the bed, “Is she okay?”.
Sully nodded, “Just a dream, she’ll be okay.”
“Sully I want to lay down...”, Dr. Mike said. He gently helped her lay back and started to rise off the bed, “no, stay with me, hold me....please.”
Sully saw the frightened look in her eyes, and he looked up at Matthew who walked closer to Sully. “Listen, just lay down with her and hold her. It’s just us, don’t be thinking it’s anything bad.”
“Okay”, Sully looked at Dr. Mike and then looked at Matthew, “then I’d be here if she had any more bad dreams......”, Sully said softly as he laid down beside her and she immediately clung onto him. He pulled her close and then looked at Matthew.
“She looks more peaceful already”, Matthew smiled and walked back to bed.
Sully felt comfortable with Dr. Mike in his arms. He knew that she felt secure with him there and that made him feel good. He was touched by the way she felt the need of his protection. She certainly made him feel stronger and he knew in his heart he would protect her, no matter what. Soon they were both sleeping soundly in each others arms.
Colleen woke early and smiled and held her hand to her mouth when she saw Dr. Mike and Sully wrapped in each others arms on the bed. Not that it was a funny site, but it was a site that Dr. Mike must have requested. She knew Sully would never take it upon himself to lay on a bed with her and she knew Dr. Mike would never think it was proper. Colleen looked at them, so peaceful. They really had something between them, she thought, something stronger than words. Sully would do anything for any of them, Colleen knew, but she also knew that Dr. Mike had brought Sully out of his dark world. He seemed to enjoy being with them more and more. She thought back to how Sully was before Dr. Mike came to Colorado Springs. He used to help her mother at the boarding house, but he was quiet and always looked sad. He would talk with her mother, but there was never laughter, smiles or stories between them. She knew her mother must have known all of Sully’s hurts and pains and respected them, or else Sully would not have been friendly with her mother. She thought of what her mother would think if she could see them, lying on the bed together. Sully protecting her, and Dr. Mike protecting Sully also, protecting him from the hurt and pain of his past.
“Colleen....”, Matthew had walked up behind her. “Oh, mornin’ Matthew, I was going to get water in the kettle...”, she said as she motioned to Dr. Mike and Sully.
“Yeah, I know, I told Sully no one is gonna see them. Dr. Mike wanted him to hold her. There’s nothing wrong with that”, Matthew said.
“I know.....”, Colleen smiled sweetly at Matthew, “I’ll get some water.”
Dr Mike opened her eyes and was startled that someone was there. As she raised her eyes and realized it was Sully, she moved her hand on his chest and he woke. “How are you?”, he said softly as he gently slid his arm out from underneath her and sat up, “Did you sleep well?”
“Did you?”, she asked.
“Dr Mike, you asked me to hold you and not leave.......”, Sully felt the need to explain.
“I know”, she said in a whisper, her face blushing, “thank you, I’m glad you stayed. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like that in my life. Thank you for staying with me Sully”, she reached and squeezed his hand.
He smiled at her and lifted her hand to his lips, “Let me get you some water”.
“I’d like to get up”, she said as she carefully sat up and swung her legs to the edge of the bed, “I feel sore, but I don’t want to lie down anymore.”
“Okay, come on, you can sit at the table. You need to have something to drink and eat”, Sully said as he helped her stand and go to the table. She looked up into his eyes and her own eyes filled with tears, “None of that”, he said and to his surprise, she reached up and pulled his face to hers and kissed him softly on the lips. His eyes darted over her face, he saw the gentle look in her eyes. He smiled and kissed her. She then rested her head on his chest. The door opened and Colleen and Matthew came in.
“Morning, how is everyone?”, asked Matthew.
“Better”, replied Dr. Mike, looking at Sully as he pulled a chair out for her.
“I think we all need something to eat and drink”, said Sully, “I’ll help.”
Colleen went and hugged Dr. Mike. “Colleen, I’m grateful you weren’t hurt. It could have been much worse for both of us. Are you feeling okay today?”
Colleen nodded, “Yeah, I’m just so glad that you’re okay. Your scratches are pretty bad. I’m glad he didn’t ....hurt you.....”
Dr. Mike’s eyes filled with tears and she looked up at Sully, who quickly looked away. “Yes, we’re all glad of that. Where is Brian?”
“With Mr Bray and Miss Dorothy. Sully figured it would be best for him not to be here and see you hurt”, Matthew said.
“Thank you Sully”, Dr. Mike said as she smiled up at him. Colleen and Matthew prepared food and coffee and Sully sat next to Dr. Mike.
“Would you like to take a nice warm bath later?”, he asked her.
“Yes, that sounds wonderful”, she smiled at him.
“Good, I’ll get it all ready for you after we eat”, he patted her hand and gave her a wink.
Dr. Mike went outside while Sully and Matthew filled pots with water to heat for the bath. Colleen walked up to Dr. Mike, “Good to get some fresh air, huh?”
“Sure is.......”, Dr. Mike stared at the ground, “Colleen do you know what Hank and Jake did with....that man?”
Colleen shook her head, “No.....and I don’t wanna know..”
Sully walked to Dr. Mike, “Bath’s ready if you are”, he said softly touching her shoulder. She walked past him to the house. He watched her, hoping she would feel better after the warm bath.
Dr. Mike ran her fingers along the top of the water, almost in a daze reliving what happened. She had fired a gun and killed a person. She knew it was out of her control, but she had done it. Tears fell into the warm bath water and she started to tremble. She couldn’t control the tears as she began to sob. She drew her hands to her face, trying to compose herself, but her hands became fists and she splashed them down into the water and continued sobbing.
Sully was sitting on the porch with Matthew. Matthew stood up, “Should we see if she’s all right?”
Sully shook his head, “Allow her some private time, we’ll know if she needs us.” Matthew looked at Sully, not sure if he agreed.
Dr. Mike’s crying became louder and louder, Matthew said, “I think you better go see if she’s okay...”
Sully waited a moment and then stood up and walked to barn where the bath tub was. He opened the door a crack, “Dr. Mike.......you all right?”
Dr. Mike sobbed and took a few deep breaths, “I’m fine, leave me alone.....please.”
Sully closed the door, she didn’t sound fine to him, but he respected her request.
The rest of the day was quiet. Dr. Mike sat on the porch while the children did chores with Sully’s help. Colleen took a nap and then started supper. “Sully, is Ma gonna go to the clinic tomorrow?”, asked Brian.
“That’s up to her Brian. Your Ma’s strong, she’ll be back to work, don’t you worry”, said Sully trying to reassure Brian, although not too sure himself. Sully walked out of the barn and noticed Dr. Mike was not on the porch. He went into the house and looked, “Colleen.....isn’t Dr. Mike in here?”
“No, she’s on the porch....isn’t she?”
Sully went back outside, looked around, “Dr. Mike....” Matthew and Brian came out of the barn. “I’ll find her, she’s probably down at the creek....you kids stay here”, Sully said as he ran off.
Dr. Mike sat at the water’s edge, running her fingers through the grass. She thought about going to the clinic and knew people in town would have questions. She didn’t want to explain what happened at the homestead over and over again. She didn’t want to talk to anyone about it. She and Colleen were okay and that was what was important. They lived through a horrible ordeal and now they needed to move on, as difficult as that may be. Her thoughts were interrupted by someone walking behind her, she turned to see Sully. She quickly looked back at the water.
“Dr. Mike.......what are you doing?”, asked Sully softly, “are you okay?” When she did not respond, Sully approached the water’s edge, but not near her. He crouched down looked at the water and slowly looked over at her. She wasn’t crying, she was just staring. His eyebrows creased as he wondered what she was thinking.
“Dr. Mike, if you wanna talk about anything I’m here.......you can talk to me.....”
She looked at him, “I don’t want to talk.......just leave me be.....go back to the homestead...have you decided to move in?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I haven’t moved in, I been staying close by in case you or the children need anything. I’m worried about you, I don’t want you to be frightened”, Sully said trying not to sound too defensive.
“Is that why you sleep in my bed?”
“What........Dr. Mike you asked me to hold you...”, he went and knelt beside her, “you were scared, hurt......I wanted to protect you”, he whispered, “Don’t you remember asking me to stay?”
Dr. Mike shrugged her shoulders, “Leave me alone......”, was all she said as she stared back out at the water and drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them.
“Dr. Mike, I would never do anything improper, you know that. I want to help.....”
“Leave me alone........now!”, she yelled. He was stunned, but stood and walked away.
Dr. Mike put her hand on the clinic door, she wanted to be back at work. She knew if she stayed away it would only be more difficult to return. She did not acknowledge any townsfolk on her way in, she wasn’t even sure if anyone was out there watching her. She sat down at her desk and pulled out some paper work. There was a knock on the door. “Come in”, she said. Dorothy opened the door and poked her head in, “Can I come in, or would you rather be alone?”
Dr. Mike smiled, “I should have known that you would understand”, she got up from her chair and opened the door for Dorothy, “please come in”.
“Michaela, I’m so sorry for what happened, but I’m so grateful that you and Colleen are all right. Brian went off to school, he’s just fine.”
“Thank you, I appreciate your taking care of him”, she sat down, “I’m glad to be here, it feels safe.”
“Well of course! People look out for one another in town, you know that. Good thing Sully was out there..”
“Sully? How do you know he was out there?”
“Why, Michaela, it’s Sully. It isn’t unusual that he would be out there, and I’m sure that he’s glad he’s been there to help you and the children.”
“Dorothy, I think men are........cruel....they can change so fast....they think about women and something happens to them....they can snap and become mean and angry. I don’t think I can deal with that anymore.”
Dorothy looked at Michaela with confusion, “Men can be cruel, look at Marcus, he was mean and angry when he drank Michaela. A lot of the time it’s the liquor that gets a man crazy”, she looked closely at Michaela who seemed to be staring far away, “don’t go thinkin’ all men are like that, because they aren’t. Look at the saloon, it’s most of the same men in there day in and day out, some just for a drink and others well......they drink too much, but not all men are like that.” Dorothy touched Michaela’s hand, “What is it, what’s troublin’ you?”
“Everything. I just want to do my work and go home, that’s all”, she said and stood up, hands on her waist, “so if you’ll excuse me Dorothy, I have things to do.”
Dorothy stood up, surprised by Michaela’s lack of explanation, but decided to leave her be, “I’ll see you later, all right”.
Michaela nodded and after Dorothy left she sat at her desk and cried. She couldn’t control the tears, she put her head on her desk and sobbed.
Dorothy walked back to the mercantile thinking about what Michaela had said, she saw Sully walking from the livery. “Sully!”, she yelled and waved.
“Mornin’ Dorothy, how are you?”, Sully said.
“I’m fine, but Dr. Mike isn’t”, she said, “has she talked to you about this whole thing?”
“Not very much. I know something’s botherin’ her, but she won’t say. She keeps telling me to leave her alone”, Sully said, looking at Dorothy for answers, “she didn’t say anything to you did she?”
“She said strange things to tell you the truth, that she’s had it with men, they’re all cruel and angry”, Dorothy said, “I never heard Michaela talk like that Sully, and then she asked me to leave, saying she had things to do.”
Sully nodded, “Maybe we just need to give her a few days and she’ll be okay. Figured I’d stay close to the clinic today in case. She’s been crying a little, nothing unusual, but it’s a strange cry Dorothy”, Sully said, “I’ll be at the livery, I’ll let you know if anything happens.”
“Yes, please do and if you need me to talk to her, I will”, Dorothy said, nodded and continued on into the store.
Sully looked down towards the clinic and then headed back to the livery.
Dr. Mike decided to leave the clinic early. She rode out to the homestead and went in the house and lay on the bed. She soon fell asleep and was woken by knocking on the door. She got up and asked, “Who is it?”
“Sully....are you allright?”
She opened the door, “What are you doing here?”
Sully noticed her tone, “I was worried when I saw that the clinic was closed. I wanted to make sure you were all right, that’s all.”
“I’m fine”, she started to close the door. Sully put his hand up on the door.
“Dr. Mike are you angry with me? How come you don’t want me around?”, he asked concerned that she wasn’t looking at him and seemed irritated with him.
“I told you I’m fine Sully...really, you don’t have to fuss!”
“Fuss? I want to make sure you and the kids are safe here. I like helping around the place, doing things for you and the kids”, he said, she did not respond, “I don’t know what your thinkin’ in your head, but it must be something wrong. You want to be alone........fine!”, and he walked away. Dr. Mike shut the door and lay back down on the bed, hugging her pillow.
Several days had past and Dr. Mike went to the clinic and saw patients, but that was the extent of anything that appeared normal. Sully stayed away and the kids let her be, busy with their own lives. Dorothy was the one who saw Michaela’s action as peculiar and tried to discuss it with her.
“Michaela, let’s go to Grace’s and have some pie”, she asked her one afternoon.
“Sounds good”, Michaela said, although Dorothy noted it wasn’t enthusiastic. At the cafe, Michaela was quiet, not looking around.
“So, have you seen Sully lately?”, Dorothy asked. Michaela shook her head. “May I ask why? Are you avoiding him Michaela?”, Dorothy whispered across the table.
“He hasn’t been around, and frankly that’s okay with me”, Michaela said clutching her coffee cup, “there really isn’t any reason for him to be around.”
“Michaela, Sully wants to be sure you and the children are safe out at the homestead. If you’re thinkin’ people are wondering about him being there, you can stop that right now. Sully is a man of honor, everybody knows that. He’d never hurt you or the children..”
“He shouldn’t be there to watch over us Dorothy. He could change just like every other man! There is no guarantee. Men are men, I think they can change suddenly. Not all men are caring and want to protect people you know!”
“What are you saying? Do you think Sully is gonna change into some kind of monster? Michaela you know better than that!”, Dorothy’s voice became louder.
“Dorothy, please”, Michaela whispered and she stood up and left the cafe.
Dorothy watched Michaela over the next few days. She didn’t notice any change and she also didn’t go to talk with her. Michaela had made it clear she needed to be alone and Dorothy thought she’d visit her in a few more days. Suddenly Dorothy saw a wagon speeding into town from the meadow and then she heard gun fire. She backed into the doorway of the store and saw Robert E and Sully coming running from the livery. The wagon continued right through town. There were so many people outside now that Dorothy hadn’t even looked at the wagon to see who it was, she was watching people run down the street. People were yelling to each other and there was chaos everywhere. She saw Michaela come out of the clinic, she decided to go to be with her.
“What happened?”, Michaela asked Dorothy, looking at the people in front of Hank’s saloon.
“I’m not sure, a wagon went through town and someone was firing a gun, but I don’t have any idea who....”, Dorothy stopped when she looked at Michaela and saw tears running down her cheeks. She held her right hand out as if pointing to the crowd. Dorothy looked in the direction Michaela was looking and saw Sully. He was helping a woman who was on the ground, she didn’t appear injured just shocked and Sully was helping her up while others helped gather the packages she had been carrying. Sully was holding the woman’s arm, making sure she could stand and he asked her if she was sure she was okay. The woman thanked Sully, assuring him she would be okay and she appreciated his concern and kindness.
Michaela leaned on the pole of the porch, crying. Dorothy didn’t want to say anything, she knew Michaela needed to cry. Sully smiled as the woman left with the packages others had picked up for her, then he looked to the clinic and saw Michaela. The smile on his face changed to a look of shock and concern. He glanced at Dorothy who smiled softly at him and nodded her head. Sully walked over to Michaela. He didn’t say anything, he just looked at her. He wanted to hold her and tell her everything was okay, but he was hesitant considering the past week or so. It hurt him that she was crying.
Michaela squeezed the pole with her hands and looked up and saw Sully. Her sobs became louder and she held her hands out to him Sully stepped forward and she fell into his arms. “I’m sorry.....I’m so sorry Sully...”, she said through the sobs. He remained silent but held her and rocked her gently against his chest. “How could I......oh Sully.....”, she looked up into his eyes and saw his tears. He was shaking his head to silently tell her he understood, “Let’s go into the clinic..”, he said as he walked her to the clinic door. Dorothy smiled at them, clung her hands to her chest and went back to the store.
Sully closed the clinic door and faced Michaela. He put his hands on her face and saw all the pain in her eyes, her tears fell onto his fingers, “Oh Michaela......it’s okay.............everything’s gonna be okay now...”
“Sully, I’m sorry”, she touched his face now, “I have been so foolish. I didn’t realize what I’ve done until I saw you........I saw you helping someone else and I know that’s what you were doing with me......I feel awful...I’m sorry”, she started to sob again.
“Hey, hey...no more tears, it’s okay”, he put his arms around her, “I understand, but please know I would never hurt you and if you don’t want me around, just tell me....promise me that you’ll do that”.
She looked up at him, “I promise....how could I be so foolish, I’ll never tell you to leave me. I need you here...”, she kissed him on the lips and then laughed, “oh..sorry, that was a little wet.”
Sully smiled, “That’s fine, it’s just nice to see you smile again”, he kissed her on the lips and drew her up against his body. He felt her softly sob again, but she wrapped her arms around him. They stayed like that for several minutes, reuniting and reaffirming their trust, their friendship, their passion.