A Time to Reflect

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

 

Diego followed the doctor’s example and washed his hands, wiping them dry on a clean cloth.  While he didn’t expect to do the same work as the doctor, he respected Dr. Avila’s desire to keep things as clean as he could.  When he had asked before, the physician could only explain that there was a connection between cleanliness and his patients’ cure rates, even if he didn’t know exactly what that connection was.  Tony moaned softly and then slowly woke up, blinking up at him.  “Who?  Where . . . am I?” he asked groggily.

“You are in the pueblo de Los Angeles, seńor,” Diego answered.  “In the doctor’s office.  And I am Diego de la Vega.  I am helping Doctor Avila.” 

Tony furrowed his brow as though trying to think of something, but then he moaned softly, pain etched on his face.   “Did you bring me here?” he finally asked.

“No, Capitán Luvisto evidently brought you.”

“He seemed angry about something.  I think,” said Tony, turning his head and watching the doctor at a side table. 

Diego was surprised at how much the injured man seemed to have picked up, even with his tenuous hold on lucidity. “I believe you are right.”

“And he covered for me,” Tony added, looking back at Diego. 

“Covered for you?”

“He told his sergeant that he had been mistaken about me.”  Tony moved a bit on the hard table, trying to get comfortable.  “About me being a foreigner,” Tony added when Diego looked puzzled.

Diego’s jaw almost dropped. Tony’s actions and Zorro’s words had a greater effect on the comandante than he could have dreamed.  Or maybe it was only the American’s actions, but no matter. Tony was here, getting the best care he could.

“But technically, he is right. I was born in California.” Tony closed his eyes again and Diego thought he might have slipped back into sleep. “Edwards,” he murmured.  

Diego wondered what or who this Edwards was.  Another English name, but then, Tony’s friend had claimed that they were from the future, so who would know?  Suddenly, Diego felt the hairs rise on the back of his neck and there was a soft pop at one side of the room.  With a swift motion, he turned toward the sound and saw a metal box suddenly appear in one corner of the room.  A quick glance told him that Dr. Avila had seen the same thing.  Bernardo clutched his arm and then crossed himself.  Diego was tempted to do the same thing. Instead, “By the Santos!” Then he crossed the room and crouched down next to the strange box, not quite able to touch it. 

“What is it?” Dr. Avila said from behind his shoulder. 

“From the tunnel,” Tony said.  He grunted in pain as he propped himself up on one elbow. 

Diego knew what Tony was talking about, or at least had a bit of idea, but he couldn’t reveal that. “Tunnel?”

“Uh, the people who sent me here,” Tony said, as though thinking as fast as he could.  “I imagine it’s medical supplies.”

Avila frowned at the box and then looked at the man on the table.  “Seńor, I have ample medical supplies.  And you need to lie down.  Your wounds are not bound and you will start bleeding again.”

“Do you have medicines to prevent infections?” Tony asked pointedly before lying down with a soft groan.

Diego touched the box and then pulled it toward him. There were strange latches, but he could see how they worked and he opened the box. Inside were small bottles with tiny round objects inside.  There were also other bottles, large and small, with liquid in them.  On the outside of each were wrapped small pieces of paper. He pulled one off a smaller bottle and read it. The Spanish was readable, but obviously written by one whose first language was not Spanish.  He glanced at the doctor. “It says that these are to be taken twice a day. They are some kind of medicine to prevent infection.” 

Dr. Avila took the bottle and peered at it, then shook it. He handed it back to Diego and reached for the other bottles, reading the notes attached to each one. Taking a deep breath, he turned to Tony. “You are familiar with these?” he asked.

Tony nodded. “From what Seńor de la Vega said, the pills are for after you are finished taking care of my wound.”  He grimaced. “Which hurts like hell, by the way.”  He paused a moment before continuing.  “The other is used to wash the wound and probably another one is an anesthetic to use before you begin. There may be other things.” 

“You mean this,” Diego asked, holding up a syringe in a tiny bottle. 

Tony nodded. “Yes, I guess so.”

Dr. Avila examined it.  “Is this like a sleeping potion?”

Tony looked as though he was ready to drift back into unconsciousness, but he blinked and nodded.  “Or it is just local anesthetic.  For the leg,” he added quickly. 

Dr. Avila looked at the syringe and then at Tony. “Where do you come from that you have such things for doctors to use? And why don’t those doctors share their knowledge with other doctors like myself?”  He seemed dubious at all that was happening. “I need to take care of you, uh….” Then he stopped and thought a moment.  “This is the second time we have talked to one another but I still have not asked your name.” 

“Tony Newman,” came the answer.  “And it’s hard to explain.”

Indeed, Diego thought, wondering how this traveler was going to enlighten the doctor. 

Even in his wavering consciousness, Tony understood his dilemma as well, but considering that he had no choice, he began to give details. “The tunnel the box came through . . .same one I came through is . . . is a tunnel through . . . time.”

“What?” Avila’s eyes bulged in their disbelief.

“You have to believe me.  It’s true.  I am from the future.”  And with that Tony sighed and lapsed back into sleep. 

“That is outrageous!” Dr. Avila burst out.  Bernardo stood close by Diego and looked questioningly at his master. 

Diego nodded.  “I saw that box materialize from thin air, Doctor.  I do not really believe in fairy tale magic, so I can only believe that he is telling the truth, as strange and fantastic as it is.  Seńor Newman is too ill to think up a lie this outrageous.  I think his friends sent these things to help him recover.”  Dr. Avila still seemed dubious.  “Look at it as a kind of grand experiment.  You are a doctor.  If this helps him, then perhaps these kinds of discoveries can be used on your future patients,” Diego suggested. 

Avila looked at the man on the table.  Small rivulets of blood dripped from the open wound.  He nodded.  “I will try it, but if this sleeping potion does not work, then Seńor Newman will be in a great deal of pain when I sew the wound closed.”

Avila read the directions on each of the various bottles again and then took the three small syringes to his operating table.  He administered the potions in the manner the directions prescribed and then took the larger bottle and used a small portion of the liquid to rinse his instruments.  The rest he used as he cleaned out the wound.  His patient didn’t wake up.  When he had finished cleaning and suturing the wound, he stepped back, wiping the back of his hand across his forehead. “I need to bandage his leg and then wait until he wakes up to give him these other medicines,” Avila pronounced. 

Diego had watched carefully during the procedure, wondering as he undoubtedly figured the doctor had, how all of this worked.  But the patient had remained asleep throughout the procedure, seemingly oblivious to the meticulous work being done on his leg. 

When Avila was finished and washing up, Diego tentatively asked, “Where did the comandante say to take Seńor Newman when you had finished tending to him?”  Although it appeared that Capitán Luvisto had had a sincere change of heart, one could never be sure.

“Seńor Newman will stay here tonight and then he will be in the care of Father Felipe at the Mission,” Avila said quietly.  He finished drying his hands and turned back to Diego.  “I want to thank you, Diego, for helping me.  I still do not understand everything that has happened, but it is the season of Navidad, so who knows what miracles we may see during this time of year,” he said with a slight smile.  “If you and your servant can help me move Seńor Newman to the bed in the other room, I will be very grateful.”

Diego nodded and then motioned to Bernardo.  They soon had Tony Newman in the other room, settled with a blanket over him to keep him warm.  Bernardo kept a lantern lit on a small table by the doorway. 

“When he awakens, I will give him these other medicines,” Dr. Avila said, gazing at two other bottles when the two men had returned to the main room.  “I am most interested in seeing how the pain medication does.”

Diego nodded.  “I think I will go and let Father Felipe know that he will be getting a visitor tomorrow.”  He looked at the box more carefully, curious at its construction.  That was when he saw another piece of paper in the bottom.  “What is this?” he asked, more to himself than to anyone else in the room.  Opening it up, he was astonished at the contents.  ‘There are no more carnosaurs in your area,’ it said. 

The doctor looked over his shoulder. “What is a carnosaur?”

Diego almost told him, then realized that Don Diego wouldn’t have known that information.  So he shrugged and said, “I think you will have to ask Seńor Newman.  However, I can surmise that the first part of the word refers to something that eats meat, as in ‘carnivorous.’  Saurian is a reptile or lizard.   Most curious,” he said in tone that indicated puzzlement.

“Indeed.  I have several questions for our mysterious stranger,” Avila said with a smile.  “Especially since he seems to enjoy the good will of our comandante.”

“That in and of itself is a miracle,” Diego said with a laugh.  He nodded and beckoned to Bernardo.  “I think I will go to the Mission now,” he said and left the office.  It was only later that Dr. Avila realized that Diego had forgotten the sleeping potion.

 

                         @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

 

Tony remembered very little of the night in the doctor’s care.  There were brief moments of lucidity when Dr. Avila gave him something to drink along with his medicine, asked him a few questions.  Morning brought with it more awareness of his surroundings and of the soreness of his wound.  He could only thank God that Kirk and the others had put together that box of supplies.  Somehow, Tony wasn’t sure he wanted to test the nineteenth century painkillers.  All in all, though, he felt a great deal better than he had the day before. 

“You are doing quite well, Seńor, but I cannot keep you here much longer.  I have already arranged for you to stay at the Mission San Gabriel where the priests will take excellent care of you,” Avila told him after a light breakfast.

“I appreciate all that you have done for me,” Tony replied after another drink of water.  He couldn’t seem to get enough.  “I wish I could repay you.”

Avila smiled.  “I will come out and see you periodically while you recover.  The use of these new types of medicines will be payment enough.  I would very much like to try and find out what they are so I can use them on future patients.”  He smiled.  “Besides, both the comandante and Diego de la Vega have promised to pay for any expenses I might have incurred.”

Tony would have to thank them, too, when he talked to them next.  He wondered about Diego de la Vega.  There was something he felt he should know about the man, but he just couldn’t figure out what and he drifted into a light sleep until it was time for his ride to the Mission.   Since it was right after taking one of the painkillers, darvoset most likely, the way he felt, he didn’t remember much of that ride, either.

It was only later, after being settled in his bed in the Mission that he awoke to see a face he wondered if he would ever again see in this life.  “Doug!!” he cried out and then tried to sit up.

“Oh, no you don’t, my friend,” Doug said with a relieved grin.  “They told me what happened.  You’re very lucky to be alive.”

“I know.  They tell you the tunnel sent some supplies?”  

“I gathered that when I saw what the priest was giving you this afternoon.  Amoxicillan,” Doug replied.  He sat down next to Tony’s bed with a heavy sigh.  His demeanor became serious. 

Tony didn’t say anything, but saw that something was bothering his friend.   He yawned and realized just how tired he still was.  How long had it been since the fight with the carnosaur?  At least a day, he figured. 

“This was just too close, Tony.  They said I was pretty out of it when I was found.  And you were almost killed.”

Tony stifled another yawn.  “Those last few transfers were too close together, with too little time to rest.  We were exhausted, Doug.  Maybe we’ll get some rest here.”

Doug nodded.  “Well, you’ll get one of your wishes,” Doug said, brightening up a bit. 

“What wish was that?” Tony said, blinking to stay awake. 

“It’s Christmas.”

“What?”

Doug smiled softly.  “Around here, they begin celebrating Navidad on December the sixteenth.  Today is the fourteenth.”

Tony didn’t say anything.  He viewed the holiday season with mixed feelings. While he enjoyed the camaraderie of his friends and what was left of his family, it still depressed him.  He had been riding on high adrenalin levels since finding his father during the attack on Pearl—and losing him again.  ‘I would know you anywhere,’ his father had said to him just before he had died in his arms.  That dying ‘again’ had brought closure; the closure of knowing what had actually happened, but it had also brought its own kind of pain—that of opening up anger that had been carefully suppressed over the twenty-seven years since his father had become missing in action.  Despite his fatigue and drugged condition, he tried to present an impassive expression.  “Should be interesting,” he said remotely. 

“You still need plenty of rest,” Doug said.  “Have something to drink and then relax.  Father Felipe told me that there would be some stew ready for us in an hour or two.”

Tony nodded and took the proffered mug.  Soon he was sound asleep again. 

Doug looked at his friend in concern.  He had seen the emotions flicker across Tony’s face when he had mentioned Christmas and he guessed it had a great deal to do with the trauma of losing his father just before Christmas.  How would a child deal with such pain—especially when that child hadn’t even known for sure what had happened to his father?  Doug sighed. 

“How is your friend?” Father Felipe asked from the other side of the bed.  A tall young man was standing next to him, a look of intense curiosity on his face.

Doug started.  He hadn’t even seen the priest come in.  Then Doug realized that he hadn’t asked Tony how he felt either.  “He acted like he was feeling better, but I forgot to ask,” Doug said sheepishly. 

Father Felipe smiled indulgently.  “His color is better than it was this morning.  I am sure he is better.”  For several moments, the priest just stood there.  “But he seemed to have an ambivalent response to your announcement.  Or did I misinterpret his reaction?”

“No, Padre,” Doug answered and then he told him, as best he could, what had happened when Tony was a boy. 

“Perhaps this Navidad will bring some healing."

Nodding, Doug sincerely hoped so.  While Tony dealt with his pain over his loss better than many would have, he also realized that his friend’s inner injury needed to be healed just as his physical one did.  

 

 

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