Matthew begins to understand what happened at the Park.
Chapter Two - The End
Although Matthew Yule was 73 years old, he was proud of his ability to still walk to the local park. All those years in the service took their toll on his body but he kept moving. He used a cane to compensate for the damage from a grenade exploding too close to his left leg which also took out his right eye. The big guns he helped to load took a toll on his ears.
As he took each step he mused about his latest neurologist doctor visit. There was cancerous fist-size growth in his brain. The doctor felt it could be operated on, and with chemo and drugs, he had an excellent chance of living more years. He couldn't decide if he was going to tell his children about the problem.
A smile spread across his face. Today was his granddaughter's birthday.
"A penny for your thoughts, Matt." his friend Joe stated, startling Matthew.
Joe Earnest had been in the military service along with Matthew and they have been friends since. They met every Tuesday and Thursday to play chess in the park. However, this week was different. Today, Joe had errands to run and he met Matthew by accident.
Joe Earnest was two years younger than Matt, but you couldn't tell. During the war, he got shot several times. With each bullet, a major organ was hit. Joe believes he should have died each time but was convinced he was meant for better things. Even when he was close to a land mine as someone triggered it. Joe, however, had only his left leg severely damaged.
It was injured in such a way the doctors could not repair all the damage so it had to be amputated. Even after this, Joe was optimistic.
"Why don't you get one of these?" Joe referred to his wheelchair scooter. "You wouldn't have to walk everywhere and it could greatly enhance what you can do".
"Nay, I am fine walking. You know I don't like just sitting. I have to be moving all the time. Plus my condo is on the second floor."
"Matt, we have had this argument too many times already. You live where there is an elevator and you can still be moving, just easier," Joe said, trying to convince Matthew of the advantages of the wheelchair scooter. "Besides, these are fun to use and save you all of the pain your in by walking."
"Fine. If you get off my back, I will look into it," Matthew conceded. "If I get one, I better not have to re-arrange my place. You know I don't like change. I like my living room the way it is. Change is something I have had too much of.".
Matthew didn't like to bother his friend, or his family, about what was happening with his medical problems. He had decided he would let them know right before the procedures. Besides change, Matthew did not like to worry about the people he cared about.
"So, where are you going, Joe?" Matthew asked. "Oh, I needed to pick up supplies for a few days' worths of food. Later, I have Physical Therapy."
"I have time before the party, need any help bringing your stuff home?" Matthew asked.
"No, I have everything delivered so I don't have to carry anything," Joe replied. "Besides, You need to use your cane and the groceries would be too heavy."
The two of them proceeded to go to the store together. Joe knew Matt would still offer the help. Joe sensed something was going on with Matthew. He usually talks about his family and what they were doing. Today, Matt was much quieter and did not start any conversations.
The two men began their journey to the storeJoe had to slow down because Matthew could not walk as fast as Joe went as the scooter traveled. Joe began to talk about his family: Matthew was not listening because he was in his head thinking about his tumor and the possibility of an operation. He also thought of his family and how they would respond to his situation and the fact he didn't tell them until the operation or chemotherapy began.
As they walked, several people passed them. It surprised both of them when two strangers stopped in front of them. The tallest one had his hand in his coat pocket and the more muscular man had his hand underneath the coat he was carrying.
"You two need to follow me and nobody gets hurt." said the tall man. Both mysterious men showed Matthew and Joe the guns they were carrying and that they were pointed directly at them.
"He will lead," pointing to the tall man, "and I will follow. I will keep both of you in sight and will shoot without any second chances or hesitation." the muscular man said ommesualy.
Matthew was about to scream for help but could only start the word before the tall man punched him in the stomach. Matthew went down hard to his knees, barely able to breathe. The tall man roughly picked him up and threatened to kill him the next time he tried anything. While Joe was complying with the gunmen, the muscular man hit Joe on the back of his head. This caused Joe to lose consciousness and slump over on his scooter.
"Wakey wakey old man," the muscular man said as he was slapping Joe's face to rouse him. It took a couple of slaps before Joe responded. The muscular man commented, "You do anything like your friend, I will shoot you in the eye so you can see the bullet coming."
"Leave him alone," Matthew began, "He didn't do anything. I will be quiet if you promise not to shoot us."
The muscular man advised Joe and Matthew. "Yeah, sure. We will possibly not kill you. It depends on both of you following directions and keeping quiet."
The tall man added, "There is no promise of not killing you. Like my friend here told you, it depends on how well you listen and not talk."
They were at the small grove of trees by the time he finished. Being there obscured the visibility of what was happening. "We want your billfolds, credit cards, and bank information. You are now our sponsors in our endeavors. Hand over everything quick like," the tall man instructed.
Matthew and Joe knew the men were not joking about shooting them.
Neither man hesitated to produce their wallets with the money they were carrying, along with the credit cards, their I.D.s, and family pictures. While the two men were going through Matthew's and Joe's billfolds, they began taking the pictures out and dumping them on the ground. The tall man mumbled, "Not very much in this one. No cash, just three credit cards, an AARP membership card, and an expired driver's license."
"This one has two credit cards, a driver's license, and $50.00 in cash. Not much else but pictures and junk," advised the muscular man stated about Matthews's billfold. He then dumped out all the contents to the ground and then stepped on them, grinding his foot.
Joe and Matthew were helpless to stop them. To make matters worse for Joe, they disabled his scooter, stranding him there. Matthew didn't care about the credit cards or the money. His eyes kept darting to the pictures in the dirt. He wanted to pick them up but thought it wouldn't be wise to draw attention to himself. He saw pictures of his family covered with dirt, his wife's last photo was ripped and smeared with dirt. Matthew knew he had to do something. He remembered his combat training and how often he used it. He had a weapon, the cane, with him. He remembered what he could do with a Bo Staff while in the military. He just needed to get closer.
"Can I sit down on the rock right behind you?" Matthew inquired.
"No, you are going to sit there until we figure out what to do with you two. I want to shoot you both so there aren't any witnesses alive. My partner thinks we should just clobber you into unconsciousness. I am not sure that would be a good idea. However, that does sound like fun," said the tall one.
It was now or never to act. He knew he wasn't as young anymore. He did have the advantage of surprise. He needed to act as fast as he could and decided to start with the closest, which was the muscular one.
As Matthew readied himself to attack, the tall one looked at Matthew and must have known his thoughts. He held up his gun and pointed it at Matthew. He then walked closer to him until the gun was on Matthew's forehead.
"I strongly advise you to not move or your friend will have the golden opportunity to see the bullet before he dies," the tall man growled at Matthew.
"Just to make sure you don't move, I will borrow your cane." He grabbed the cane and jerked it away from Matthew. Suddenly, without support, Matthew fell to the ground in a heap. He struggled to sit up without the use of one leg. He eventually managed to sit up. His hands and good leg were scraped and bruised.
"Hey Matt, you alright?" asked Joe. "You hit the ground hard. How is your leg?"
"I'll survive. How's your head?' Matthew asked.
The muscular one declared, this ain't a social call you two," the muscular one dered. "No more talking. Hey, are we done here?" the muscular one asked the tall one.
Grab their cell phones so they can't call anyone." The muscular one walked over to Matthew, searched for his phone, and placed it on the ground a few feet away from Matthew.
"Whatever," the muscular man said to Joe in response.
When both phones were placed on the ground, the muscular man stomped on them smashing and breaking apart the phones into pieces destroying any chance of further use. Before Joe or Matthew could speak, the tall and muscular robbers drew their weapons and pointed the guns barrels at Matthew and Joe. "You haven't listened to anything we told you not to do. Give us one reason not to kill you."
"You disabled us from doing anything by breaking Joe's scooter and taking my cane, stealing our money and cards, destroying our phones, and defiling our pictures. Neither one of us will be able to identify you because our vision is not clear, I only have one working eye, and our memories aren't as accurate as they once were," claimed Matthew. He then spoke before thinking, "I think you have had plenty of opportunities to kill us but haven't."
"He's right," said the muscular one. "I say we just leave them and high-tail out of here. Besides, neither one can contact the police, or call for help. Also, the gunfire, even though we have silencers, could still be heard if anybody was close enough."
"Good idea. Let's knock them out and take off," advised the tall man. Both men walked over to Matthew and Joe. The tall man stopped by Matthew and the muscular one went to Joe.
"The heck with this. Let's go now to get a distance from here," insisted the tall man. He looked at Mathew, then smiled, "Maybe next time I'll just shoot you." The two men left the little grove of trees. Matthew could not hear the two men when they left.
With Joe still unconscious, he looked for his cane. He saw it; however, it was six yards away. With no other options, he started to crawl toward the cane. It was painfully slow because he needed to rest his left leg every few feet. About fifteen minutes later, he reached his cane. He knew standing up without support would be near impossible. He looked around for something to aid him. The only things available were the trees. Luckily, there was one by his cane. Matthew grabbed his cane and laid it against the tree.
He began the process of standing up. Using the tree for support, he first maneuvered to his knees. Once this was accomplished, he had to curl his right leg up so his foot was firmly on the ground. He leaned Leaning toward the tree to find support, he began to slowly straighten his right leg. to a standing position. After several tries, he managed to get into a wobbly standing position with his leg. He was exhausted by this time but he needed to get into a standing position. He used the tree and his cane, and moved the left leg into the standing position. This was easier because he had his right leg for support. After only a few tries, he managed to get his left leg out of the kneeling position. Using the tree for support again, he slowly stood up. Finally, he was standing, unsteady, but standing.
He rested again until he could catch his breath and ready himself to walk. When he started toward Joe, he wondered if Joe was still alive as he hadn't moved. When Matthew got to Joe, he grabbed Joe's wrist to check for a pulse. He quickly found one. He started to gently shake Joe to try and rouse him.
"I'm awake so stop shaking me," Joe said in a faint voice. "I've been awake since you started walking over here. I just wanted to make sure those two had left. What happened to you and how did you get over there?"
"I crawled over there and I feel exhausted. My bad leg is really tired and I can barely walk on it," answered Matthew.
"I'm glad you're ok. I'm not, I have two lumps on my head and a bad headache. And in addition to that, my scooter is broken so I can't get anywhere," Joe bemoaned. "That leads me to the question of how are we going to get out of here?"
"Well, we can't use our phones. We both can't just walk out, and nobody knows where we are." Matthew answered. "Like it or not, and I say not, I am going to have to get help. I just hope I don't run into those two again."
"I am sure they have left the park by now, especially since we are still alive." Joe offered. "However, I don't like the idea of you walking by yourself," Joe exhaled, "but it looks like that is the only alternative unless you can fly and carry me with you."
"Yeah, sure. I have been hiding that secret from everybody including myself. And you know I am afraid of heights. I guess I better get started." Matthew then began to walk toward the opening open area near the trail where they came from. "You sit tight, help will be here soon."
Matthew began to walk out of the grove. It was very slow going. He did catch glimpses of people walking on the path; however, it would be a while before he got there. within yelling distance.
When he was within shouting distance, he called for help from three girls walking the path. They heard him and jogged over.
"Thank you. I appreciate you for coming over. My name is Mattew Yule. A friend of mine, Joe Earnest, and I were mugged and taken to that grove of trees. The two men threatened to kill us if we didn't comply. My friend is hurt with a head injury and can't walk on his own. His scooter was busted by one of the men. Could one of you please call 911 for an ambulance and the police?"
The woman in red offered to call. While she was on the phone, he told the other two what had happened and how he got there.
The woman in red said, "They are on their way. By the way, my name is Rita Wen." Indicating the other two, she introduced her friends, "The one in yellow is Candice Apper and the other one is Tiffany Agnew." Candice and Tiffany each said hello and asked if he had any injuries.
"Pleased to meet all of you. I am grateful you stopped to help us. As for me, I am exhausted, very sore, and upset we let this happen. Joe and I are usually very careful and have never been in this position." Matthew then asked, "Could we move over to those benches, I need to sit down and rest?"
Tiffany offered, "Sorry we didn't suggest that. Let's get you over there so you can rest. It will also be a great place to be since the police and ambulance can find us easier."
Ten minutes later a squad car and ambulance showed up on the path. The two police officers walked over to Matthew and the three ladies.
"Did you call 911 for assistance?"
Matthew answered, "Yes we did. My name is Matthew Yule and my friend is Joe Earnest. We were mugged and taken to that grove of trees over there," pointing to where he came out, "He was hit in the head twice and was knocked out both times. He was awake when I left. I'm afraid he may have a bad concussion. He has one leg snd uses a scooter. The men who mugged us deliberately broke his scooter so he could not come with me."
One of the police officers went over to the ambulance driver, spoke with him, and pointed out the grove of trees before they pulled the gurney out with some boxes laid on it. Three ambulance medics, with the gurney, started walking toward the grove of trees.
Before Matthew could get started on what happened, Rita spoke, "Matthew, we need to get out of here. You need to talk with the policewoman regarding what happened. I am glad you are getting better and hope your friend will get help." The three ladies double-checked with the officer that they were no longer needed and said goodbye. then left, each saying goodbye as they left.
Matthew gave the policewomen all of the details of what happened. She also wanted a description of what the thieves looked like. He provided the descriptions to her.
"That's about all I know. I got a glimpse of their guns, but can't tell you the type," Matthew offered.
"It's alright. I notated they are armed and dangerous. I need to call it in. Sit tight in case I have more questions." She left and walked to the squad car and got in. He wondered if the ambulance people found Joe and were getting him ready to move. Matthew soon got his answer when he saw them coming out of the grove with Joe laying on the gurney. He got up and began walking there by himself. He needed to find out how Joe was doing and which hospital they were taking him to.
Matthew met them by the ambulance. Joe was awake and talking to them.
"I then began to crawl over to where my buddy was to see how he was doing. The gunshot I got on my side was hurting and I was losing blood." Joe and I made eye contact. "Hey Matt, you still alive and kicking?"
Matthew told him he was doing fine and added, "I see you are telling one of your stories. Is it the one where you took out a battalion of enemy soldiers or where you rescued five wounded soldiers two klicks behind enemy lines?"
"Neither one. I am telling the about the first time I met you. when you were shot in the back," Joe answered.
"I don't remember being shot in the back."
"Um, no, I am pretty sure you were shot. I had stuffed cotton in the hole and taped it up with duct tape."
After Matthew asked the medic if Joe had a concussion, the medic affirmed there was a strong possibility. He also said he had abrasions on his head, and needed an x-ray and some bandages for the wound.
She then inquired about my condition. Matthew told her about his leg and the need for crawling on the ground. Matthew didn't know if he had cuts and bruises, just that his bad leg hurt. Matthew said he didn't want to go to the hospital just for bandages, so he kept quiet.
He did ask for the hospital Joe was going to and got the answer.
The police officer asked Matthew if he wanted a ride to his home. He said that would be nice and thanked him. On the ride home, Matthew brought up more information about the men who mugged them. "The tall one seemed to be in charge with the muscular one taking the orders."
The police officer then asked him if they used their names at all. Mathew stated they did not. "They acted as if they knew each other for a long time if that helps."
"Any information about them or the incident is helpful," responded the police officer.
When Matthew arrived at his home, he thanked the officers again and got out. The policewoman gave him her card telling him if he would remember anything else to call her.
As he made his way to his condo and wondered, he thought if he forgot anything. He would need to talk with Joe to see what he remembered.
He unlocked his door and went inside, then locked it again. He sat down in his chair and began calling his bank, credit card company, and the Department of Transportation to see what he needed to do. He had forgotten who else he needed to call until he looked at the phone on the table.
He remembered who he needed to call and contacted his cell phone carrier to order a new phone. After speaking with them, he felt better. He went into the bathroom, got his first aid kit, and went to the bedroom. He took his pants off and put on a pair of shorts. As he began to look his bad leg over, he noticed several scrapes and many bruises caused by his crawling to the tree. Other than hurting, there wasn't anything else wrong with it. His other leg faired much worse. There was a big scrape right by his knee. By the red stains on his leg and pants, he could tell it did bleed much more than his left leg. He put on several bandages to help it heal and to cushion any bumps, then went to sit in his living room with a bottle of water.
The telephone rang and he answered it, "Hello, who is this please?" Matthew inquired.
"Hey Dad, it is just me. We were wanting to know if you were still coming to the birthday party tonight? We just want to know when you would get here. By the way, why haven't you been answering your cell phone? We've called at least four times with no answer."
"Well, to be honest, I wasn't going to tell you, but Joe and I were mugged while in the park."
"What! Oh my Lord, are you alright? Did they hurt you? Tell me what happened. Have the police been called? What about Joe?" Misty wanted to know.
Matthew told his daughter everything that happened and then about the police and ambulance being called. He left out the part about the condition of his legs.
"Oh, poor Joe. I hope he is alright and doesn't have a concussion. I am really glad you are okay. Have you called about this to your bank, cell phone provider, your credit card accounts?"
"Yes I have, so don't worry about that. I will tell Joe you are thinking of him."
"I can remember calling him Uncle Joe. I think that made him uncomfortable. Do you need any cash until you get a new bank account?"
"No, I have money here. I don't carry a large amount of cash with me when going out. I only bring what I need to spend. Say, if you don't mind, I am exhausted and want to go to bed early tonight, so I would like to bow out for tonight."
"Of course, you certainly stay home. I was going to suggest it to you. I'll let Becca know you won't be coming tonight because you got hurt, but will see her in a couple of days. She'll be sad, but we'll keep her occupied with everything else. She'll be ok, don't worry. Take care of yourself tonight."
"Thanks. Give Becca Boo a big kiss from grandpa. Let her know I will be there in a couple of days. Well, I am going to go. Tell everyone I love them. Oh, I forgot to ask you if you have any pictures of the kids I can have? They destroyed all my other pictures, including the last one of mom." Matthew said somberly.
"Yes, I have plenty of pictures of the kids. I will get them around and give them to you when you get here. Sorry about them trashing your picture of mom. I thought I saw an extra one in your Family Bible. You should check it out. Oops, someone just fell and it sounds like they need a mom. I gotta go, Dad. Call me tomorrow, please. I love you."
"I love you too, Misty. I will talk with you tomorrow."
Matthew went directly to the bible. Sure enough, he found an identical picture of his wife. Tomorrow, after going to the bank to sign some papers and taking some more money out, he would go to the Men's department at his favorite mall to buy a new billfold to put her picture in. His second stop would be the Department of Transportation to get a new license.
The following day, Matthew got up a little later than usual. He felt stiff when he got out of bed. He ate breakfast and then went to take a shower. While getting dressed, he looked at the cut and bruises. The cut didn't look like it was infected and the bruises were turning a dark shade of purple. He didn't feel like walking or taking the bus, so he decided to drive.
If he got stopped for not having his license with him, he will tell them he was on his way to the Department of Transportation for a replacement.
With all of his stops completed, he headed over to the hospital. Once there, he asked the hospital customer service clerk at the front desk.
"The patient is on the fifth floor, room 533. Can I help you with anything else?"
"No. Wait. Where is the gift shop?" Matthew inquired.
"That is down the hall to your right. There is a big sign on the window. Can I help you with anything else?"
"No, you've been very helpful, Thank you," replied Matthew.
After buying Joe a big flowering plant, Matthew made his way to room 533. When he got there, Joe had a doctor with him, it looked like an intern. They were wrapping up their discussion, "If you have further questions, ask the nurse to page me. Until tomorrow, rest," the doctor said and then left with the intern behind him.
"About time you were here. Guess what, there was still a warranty on my Scooter. I can get it running for free!" Joe explained happily.
Matthew answered him, "I waited until now to come over because I had to get a new license, talk with my bank and sign some papers, called my credit card companies, and buy you some flowers. They are..."
"Well, where are the flowers? I'd like to see them especially since you got them," Joe interrupted before Matthew could tell him about the kind of flowers he bought.
"As I was about to say it's a flowering plant. I have the flowers being brought up because I couldn't carry them with one hand."
Joe and Matthew had several good conversations regarding what happened yesterday, the past, and his condition.
"The results came back. It wasn't the best news I've gotten lately. It appears when I was hit, a piece of my skull got inserted into my brain. They will be doing brain surgery to remove the piece the day after tomorrow; sooner if a spot opens up." He then added, "I have a concussion. They said it is probably due to being hit twice. Anyway, the doctor just in here was the surgeon. He wanted to tell me about the concussion I have, and the severity of it. Here's the kicker, I might not wake up after the surgery. Slip into a coma. If I do, there is a chance I would never wake up."
Even though Joe told me this as if were a minor concern, Matthew knew he would be very worried. Matthew decided something at that moment. "Joe, I have something to tell you." Matthew then proceeded to tell him about my cancerous tumor, what the doctors had said, that he hadn't told anyone except him, and his uncertainty of what to do."
After finishing, Matthew waited for Joe to say something. He waited five minutes before he spoke,
"Matt, I don't know what to say. I was sitting here feeling sorry myself before you came. Now, I feel stupid. Wow, I can't believe you are going through this. Why didn't you say something earlier?'
"Does your family know? Is a surgery date been scheduled? I'm glad they didn't hit you on the head yesterday." Joe confessed.
"Joe, let me answer these questions, and then I have a question for you."
"I didn't say anything earlier because I didn't want you or my family worrying and making a fuss about it. Secondly, I haven't met with the surgeon again, that appointment is next week. I wasn't too worried about them hitting me on the head. If they would have killed me by hitting me, saves me from deciding on having the operation. Now, before you say anything, what would you have done in my shoes?" Matthew asked.
"Not sure. I mean, I am pretty sure what you are doing and the reason behind it. I know it would have killed Heather. We were married for the past 55 years. You're right, I most likely would not have told her or the family until I had the meetings with all the doctors. Then I would hesitate. Another thing, I might tell them about it and do nothing. Did they give you a time frame on how long you'll live without the surgery?" Joe inquired.
"No, they didn't give me a time frame," Matthew confessed. "I would like to think it would be over a year since they just found it. I guess I could call him and find out."
"My phone is right there, Matt," Joe pointed to the hospital phone. "Call from here."
"I memorized the number because when I first was diagnosed, I called the surgeon daily for a week, asking questions about the diagnosis, about what they would do during the surgery, and what were my chances to live with the surgery and without the surgery. I asked him if he could tell me that? Best guess is what I was looking for," Matthew answered.
"Did you get any answers after all that? Did he tell you anything? Joe asked.
"When I spoke with the surgeon, he gave me answers to all my questions. Some were statistics, some were from past experiences, and some were answers from books he read. After what would be the last day of contacting him, he said he knew what I was looking for, but he couldn't tell me."
"Couldn't or wouldn't?" Joe asked.
"Couldn't. He said he didn't know," Matthew answered. "I guess the decision is mine to make. I can call him now, I believe today is his office time."Matthew picked up the phone and dialed the number. It rang several times before the receptionist answered.
"Hello, Margrett. This is Matthew Yule calling for Dr. Harris...I have one question to ask him... No, it's personal...I understand you are his personal assistant, I would just prefer to ask him myself... Can you please have him call me later today?... I appreciate it...Oh, have him call my home phone... My cell phone got broken...Yes, that is the correct phone number...Thank you, have a good day."
"Well, now I have to wait for a return call. I doubt I get one." Matthew mused. "I guess he is busy with many other patients. Since we have a meeting next week, he may just talk to me then."
"I am going with you. You need support and someone who will ask the questions. I know you have done the same for me," Joe said.
"We'll see how well you'll be after your surgery. Let us talk about something else. Anything," Matthew offered.
"Sure, sure. Did you take a look at my nurse?" Joe was good at making Matthew smile.
Later, as Matthew was walking home, he suddenly felt very hot as if someone had opened a door or window and let the heat come into a cold house. He then heard a terrible crackling noise that sounded like electricity with something else mixed with it. He turned around just in time to see blue, green, and yellow lights and a fog-like wave crash into him, throwing him back against a tree. As he hit the tree, he felt the impact; however, it didn't hurt as bad as it should have. Right before unconsciousness, he thought he saw the light coming from a window-like opening in mid-air with a moving statue, then he passed out