Mike and his cousin, Sabrina, began packing up their camping gear. They had spent the entire weekend on a camping trip in the Other Realm.
"I'm surprised we didn't have much trouble from the bugs," Mike replied.
"Me too," Sabrina replied. "I guess the industrial strength bug repellent did it's job."
"Now where was this stuff when I spent my vacation at Lake Itasca? The mosquitoes there were as big as canned hams!"
"Well, Other Realm mosquitoes are bigger, and a lot more dangerous to mortals than regular mosquitoes."
Mike nodded, and packed his stuff into his backpack. Little did either of them know, Mike had a stowaway in his backpack. A mosquito the size of two canned hams. Then he and Sabrina walked into the woods and stopped at a tree. Mike searched a bit, and finally found a doorknob. He turned it, and he and Sabrina walked through it, and opened another door that led to Mike's basement in good old Los Angeles, California. Then they walked up the stairs.
"Back from your camping trip?" Phyllis asked.
"Yeah," Mike replied, taking off his backpack.
"A lot of bugs, but it was okay," Sabrina said.
"Well, all camping trips have bugs," Phyllis said. "Which is why I never go camping."
Mike nodded and took off his backpack. Sabrina then checked her watch.
"Well, I'd better get going," she said, heading back towards the basement door. "Remember, Mike, you come to Massachusetts in two months."
"Gotcha," Mike said. "I'll see you then."
Sabrina left then, down the basement stairs and through the door. Mike sat down at the table and proceeded to go through his backpack.
"You know it's weird," Phyllis said.
"What?" Mike asked.
"Sabrina's always coming through the basement, yet you go to visit her by plane. Why is that?"
"She likes doin' it the supernatural way ‘cause it's faster. I prefer doin' stuff the mortal way. Except when it comes to buggin' Dr. Brackett."
Phyllis smacked Mike in the shoulder and walked off. Mike smiled and went back to unpacking his backpack. He didn't notice the rather large mosquito fly out of it (and that alone was surprising). The next day, he went down into work as usual.
"So how was your camping trip?" Jerry asked, going through a script.
"Pretty good," Mike said. "Campin' in the Other Realm is easier than campin' in the mortal world. Although there are bugs everywhere, the Other Realm doesn't have as many as campin' areas around here."
"What are the mosquitoes like?"
"As big as the ones at Lake Itasca."
Jerry laughed and went back to the script as Mike continued telling him about the camping trip and the mosquitoes. Bob came in shortly afterwards, looking panicked.
"What's with you?" Mike asked.
"Yeah, you look like you've seen a ghost," Jerry replied.
"That's the biggest mosquito I've ever seen," Bob said, somewhat in a daze. "And it's not even mosquito season!"
"Eh?" Mike asked.
"I think you might have had a stowaway on your camping trip," Jerry said.
Mike and Jerry ran for the window and looked outside. Indeed, there was the biggest mosquito anyone had ever seen. Mike quickly turned to Bob.
"It didn't bite you did it?" he asked.
"No, why?" Bob asked.
"I'll tell you later. I've got to catch that thing before it does bite someone!"
At that moment, the mosquito crashed through the window and began buzzing around. Most mosquitoes are really annoying, but this one not only was annoying, but he was a nasty little bug as well. He thought he was a dive bomber.
"Duck!" Mike shouted.
Bob, Mike, and Jerry ducked as the mosquito dive bombed them. The three of them then ran off, and the mosquito went after them. It finally got the results it wanted, however. It landed right on Jerry's shoulder, and plunged it's biter right into the side of his neck.
"Yeeeouch!" Jerry shouted. Mike snapped his fingers and caught the bug in a glass.
"Got it!" he shouted.
"Man, that thing is huge!" Bob shouted. "What in the world is it?"
"An Other Realm mosquito," Mike said. "You all right, Jerry?"
"Yeah, fine," Jerry said. "Eesh, that thing's the ugliest thing I've ever seen in my life!"
"You ain't kiddin'!" Mike yelled. "We gotta keep it in this jar with the lid on tight, so it won't bite anyone else again."
"What if it breaks the jar?" Bob asked.
"It won't," Mike said. "Mosquito proof glass. Guaranteed not to break."
"Why did you want to know about it's bites, anyway?"
"Well, you know how mosquitoes transmit malaria?"
"Well, Other Realm mosquitoes transmit some pretty bad sicknesses. Some of which haven't even been identified yet. Now, Jerry, are you sure you're all right?"
"Mike, relax," Jerry said. "I've never felt better in my life! Maybe this mosquito's disinfected or something like that."
"Besides, it's the craziest thing I've ever heard," Bob replied.
Mike wasn't so sure, but he went along with it, anyway. The boys had a lot to do that day. Mike agreed to do a movie, and Bob wanted to get started on it right away. It started out okay, but there had to be a lot of takes and retakes. Jerry was starting to get frustrated over the whole thing. He couldn't concentrate on what he was doing.
"Jer, you okay?" Micky asked.
"Yeah," Jerry said. "I'm fine. I'm just getting a little headache, that's all."
"You don't look so good to me."
"I'm okay, Mick, really."
"Just the same, Jerry, I think maybe you oughta go home," Mike said. "You really don't look so good."
"Okay," Jerry said. "I'll see you guys tomorrow."
The others nodded, and Jerry left. Mike began to get that icky feeling in his sixth sense. He knew that mosquito bite was more serious than Bob and Jerry thought. Jerry went out to the parking lot and got in his car. He was really feeling sick by now, but he didn't think it was at all serious. He could barely see where he was driving, either. His vision was getting all blurry, and he felt dizzy. Finally, he passed out at the wheel, and crashed the car directly into a lamp post. The crash caught the attention of many a passer by, and one called the paramedics. Dan and T.J. arrived on the scene in under a minute. Mike arrived as well.
"What's goin' on?" he asked.
"Car crash," T.J. replied. "All right, everybody, stand back! Hey, Mike?"
"This is Jerry's car, isn't it?"
"Yeah, I know. I can probably tell you what happened once you get him out of there."
T.J. nodded, and he walked over to the driver's side of the car. They opened the door and pulled Jerry out of it. Amazingly, he came out of the accident without a scratch!
"Doesn't look like he's hurt," Dan said.
"That's a relief," Mike said.
"Looks like he just fell asleep at the wheel," T.J. said. "He been getting enough sleep?"
"No, I came back from a campin' trip in the Other Realm yesterday," Mike said. "A mosquito stowed away in my backpack, and he bit Jerry. Bob didn't think there was anythin' to worry about but I knew better. Wait here. I'll go get the jar."
"And we'll call an ambulance," Dan said. "Especially if that mosquito's transmitting an illness."
Mike nodded and ran back into the studio. He arrived back just as an ambulance departed.
"They're taking him to Rampart," T.J. said. "Don't worry about a thing, Mike."
"I can't help it," Mike said. "This is what bit him."
"Good grief!" Dan yelled.
"It's as big as a canned ham!" T.J. shouted. "What's that thing on, steroids?!"
"And it came from the Other Realm?" Dan asked.
"Oh yeah," Mike said.
"Are there any more in California?"
"Not that I know of, Dan. This was the only one I found."
"You'd better bring that to Rampart. Dr. Brackett may want to know how this happened."
"Yeah, I'd better."
Mike took the mosquito and headed for Rampart General. By the time he got there, Dr. Brackett was walking to the front desk, checking his watch.
"I've been waiting for you," he said. "You want to tell me what happened to Jerry?"
"Yeah, this bit him," Mike said, handing the jar to Dr. Brackett.
"What the heck is this thing?!" he shouted.
"An Other Realm mosquito," Mike explained. "They're potentially dangerous to mortals, but the good thing is it's the only one in the mortal world."
"How's Jerry doin'? I didn't have time to check him out. I came out just as Dan and T.J. were pullin' him out of his car. He crashed it into a lamp post."
"And he came out without a scratch?"
"Yeah. Well, Dixie and I just admitted him into a room. He's got a temperature of a hundred six degrees."
"Other than that, he seems all right. You may know more about the subject than we do. Now how did this mosquito get to the mortal world?"
"He stowed away in my backpack. Sabrina and I were campin' in the Other Realm over the weekend."
"I see. Now, how well do you know this sickness?"
"Well, all I know is there's a high fever, general aches and pains . . . . you know, headache, sore throat, upset stomach, nausea, that sort of thing. It's not contagious, that's the most important thing you should know, and it's really hard to kill this bug."
"I see. What would happen if we gave Jerry some antibiotics?"
"Only Aspirin for the headache and fever. I don't know exactly what anythin' else would do to him."
"I wouldn't want to risk it. You think you can ask an Other Realm physician about this?"
"I'll look into it. I can't promise much."
"Whatever you can do, Mike."
"Okay. See ya, doc."
Mike turned and left, leaving the mosquito with Dr. Brackett. He wanted to study it. Lynn was a little surprised at their conversation however.
"I'm shocked," she said. "You two carried on an entire conversation without yelling at each other or calling each other names. You two must be sick!"
"We're not sick, Lynn," Mike said. "Now's not the time to have my fights with Doc Brackett. Jerry's really sick, and I'm too worried about him to make slams at Dr. Feelbad."
"Hey!" Dr. Brackett shouted.
Mike left Rampart after that. Dr. Brackett glared at him and went back to looking at the mosquito. It was the biggest thing anybody had ever seen in their lives.
"That's not just a mosquito," Lynn said. "It's Squito-Zilla!"
Dr. Brackett had to agree with that one. The mosquito was HUGE! They'd have to get Mike back into Rampart in order to study it better. Mike in the meantime was on the phone with Hank at Station 51, telling him what happened, in case Dan and T.J. were out on another run (which they were).
"They're out again that fast?" Mike asked.
"They were available, what can I tell you?" Hank said. "All they reported in was that they were available after the car crash, but they didn't give me the details."
"I'll give them to you. It was Jerry's car, and he hit a lamp post."
"Typical Jerry. He's an aggressive driver."
"He fell asleep at the wheel. He's not hurt, but they did have to transport him to Rampart."
"Just in case, right?"
"No. He's got a hundred six degree fever."
"What?! Well, what happened? How'd he contract that? He was fine this morning!"
"Yeah, I know he was fine this mornin'. I went campin' in the Other Realm with my cousin, Sabrina, and a mosquito stowed away in my backpack, and he bit Jerry. Other Realm mosquitoes carry these weird sicknesses, and now Jerry's got one of them."
"He's not contagious is he?"
"No, he isn't. And who knows how long he'll be sick. He'll probably be at Rampart for quite some time, that's about all I can tell you. I figured I'd better tell you."
"Well, better call Chris and Linda. They might want to know about this."
Mike hung up, picked up the receiver once again, and fed some more coins into the pay phone. He called Hank's house then, in order to inform Christine. He'd get around to telling Linda when he had a chance to head over to Carson. Christine's reaction was the same as everybody else's, and Mike had to explain everything yet again.
"I have a feelin' I'm gonna be doin' this all day," he said.
"Did you catch that mosquito?" Christine asked.
"Yeah, he's contained over at Rampart," Mike replied. "Other than that, we've got nothin' to worry about. Except how long Jer's gonna be out of commission. I'm goin' over to the high school and tell Linda."
Mike hung up and then left Rampart. He went straight to Carson High School then. Linda was in the middle of English class, sitting through probably the most boring lecture, about the most boring book, being lectured by the most boring teacher in the entire English department. It appeared like the teacher was going to fall asleep any minute, as well as the students! Luckily, the PA system came on.
"Mr. Porter," the secretary said.
"Yahoo! A break!" Keith yelled.
"Mmmm yeeesss?" Mr. Porter asked. The kids had a hard time keeping straight faces over that one.
"Would you please send Linda Stanley to the principal's office please?" the secretary said.
"Mmmm yeessss," Mr. Porter said.
Linda picked up her books and headed out the door, relieved to get out of English class. She found Mike sitting in the office, waiting.
"Mike, what are you doing here?" she asked.
"Sit down, Linda," Mike said. "What I have to say may shock the daylights out of you."
Linda sat down. Mike stood up and told her what had happened. In response, she dropped her books to the floor. One happened to land on Mike's foot, and it was heavy.
"You took it better than I thought," he said.
"Jerry's going to be okay, though, isn't he?" Linda asked.
"Well, I don't know," Mike said. "I'm pretty sure he is, but I'm not positive. Dr. Brackett's gonna do what he can, but he can't promise anythin'."
"Where do these mosquitoes come from, anyway?"
"The Other Realm. Believe me, you don't want to mess with ‘em. They're nasty little buggers."
"Well, I'd better get back to class. I'll tell the guys about this."
"Yeah, okay. See you later, Linda."
Mike left Carson and headed back to Rampart. He felt he should get over there, just in case Dr. Brackett needed a little help with the mosquito or something like that. Also, he wanted to spend as much time with Jerry as possible. Dr. Brackett was still staring at the mosquito in the jar.
"This is the weirdest thing I've ever seen," he said. "But it came from the Other Realm, so why am I so surprised?"
"This is not my fault," Mike said.
"Yeah, I know. I gotta tell you, this is the weirdest mosquito I've seen."
"Yeah, we know all that. It's a mosquito on steroids. Now where's Jerry?"
"Room three forty-five."
Mike walked over to the elevator and rode it to the third floor. Then he walked over to 345 and walked in, nearly colliding with Carole.
"Oops," Carole said. "Sorry, Mike."
"S'allright," Mike said. "So how's he doin'?"
"Your guess is as good as mine. Listen, you hang out with Sabrina in the Other Realm a lot. Do you have any suggestions?"
"Not yet, but I think the only thing we can do at the moment is try to reduce his fever."
Carole left. Mike walked into the room, pulled up a chair, and sat down. He put his hand on Jerry's forehead and sighed. Then he snapped his fingers. A washcloth and a bottle of alcohol appeared in his hand. He poured the alcohol on the cloth, rung it out, and rubbed it against Jerry's face. Jerry stirred for a moment, and slowly opened his eyes.
"Mike?" Jerry asked, weakly.
"Glad to see you're awake," Mike said. "How are you feelin'?"
"Lousy. My head hurts, my throat hurts, my stomach hurts . . . . basically everything hurts. I guess that mosquito bite was more serious than I thought."
"More serious than you think now."
"So, what happens now?"
"Good question. I don't know."
"The only thing we can do for you right now is try to reduce your fever."
"All right. I think I'm gonna go back to sleep."
Jerry closed his eyes again and dropped off to sleep. Mike clicked his tongue against his teeth. He didn't know how he was going to get through this. He spent nearly three hours sitting with Jerry. After awhile, Joe came into the room, followed by Dixie.
"We're going to do some checking," Dixie explaied. "Pulse, BP, temperature, that sort of thing."
"Yeah, okay," Mike said, standing up.
"By the way, Kel wants to see you about that mosquito, Mike," Joe said.
"It didn't get loose, did it?" Mike asked.
"Nooo . . . . . but it's freaking out a lot of the staff."
"Let me tell you somethin', Joe, that mosquito is even freakin' me out. I'll go down and kill it. That my give Dr. Brackett a better opportunity to look at it or somethin'."
Mike sighed, stretched, and went down to the main desk. Both Lynn and Carole were staring at the mosquito.
"That's the ugliest thing I've ever seen," Lynn said.
"Not to mention the most disgusting," Carole replied. "Ew!"
"Hi," Mike replied. "Where's Dr. Brackett?"
"Right here," Dr. Brackett said. "Mike, please do something about that mosquito."
"Sure," Mike snapped his fingers and a fly swatter appeared in his hand. "Everybody stand back. I'm gonna open the jar."
Lynn and Carole ducked under the desk. Dr. Brackett took ten large paces backwards. Mike slowly opened the jar. The mosquito flew out and landed on the desk. Mike gave him one good swat with the fly swatter and the mosquito was out for the count. Then Mike snapped his fingers and a pair of tongs appeared. He picked up the mosquito and handed the tongs to Dr. Brackett.
"I think you'll be able to stick him under a microscope now," Mike replied.
"Eewww, gross!" Carole shouted.
"Great, Mike," Lynn said, sarcastically. "Now there are mosquito guts all over the desk. Yum!"
"Lynn, please!" Carole shouted. "Bleah!"
"Sorry," Lynn replied. "Couldn't resist."
"I'm goin' back up to three forty-five," Mike said. "Just kick me out when visitin' hours are over."
The others nodded. Mike left. Dr. Brackett looked at the mosquito and cringed.
"Even when he doesn't do it intentionally, he does it," he groaned. "Ecchhh."
Dr. Brackett then took the mosquito into the lab in order to study it under the microscope. Mike got back to Jerry's room just as Dixie and Joe were leaving it.
"You're not going to stay here all night, are you?" Joe asked.
"No, I'm not gonna stay here all night," Mike said. "Kick me out when visitin' hours are over. By the way. Did Jer come around?"
"Yeah, two minutes max," Joe said. "Then he went back to sleep. I think his system's weakened."
"Yeah, I think you're right," Mike said.
"Look, if you see Captain Stanley any time soon," Joe said. "Tell him he needs to fill out some forms for Jerry. We can't have him fill these out, and I don't want to give them to you, Mike."
"Makes sense," Mike replied. "Cap's off tomorrow, I think, so I'll talk to him then."
"Thanks," Joe said. "And don't worry about a thing."
Mike nodded. He couldn't help worrying. As far as he knew, there was nothing anybody could do for Jerry at this time. Morning rolled around. Mike was at the Screen Gems studios looking through the script that the group was starting the day before.
"Mike, put down the script," Bob said. "We're not doing it."
"Look, all we gotta do is replace Jerry and . . . . ." Mike said.
"I can't replace Jerry, and you know it."
"Oh. So I guess there's nothin' new around, huh?"
"You know, you don't have to hang around here all day. You can split if you want."
"You're sayin' I can go?"
"Yeah, I've got nothing for you to do, anyway. Not until Jerry gets well, at least. You two are the Screen Gems' dynamic duo. I can't put just one of you in a movie these days. People complain."
"Right. I'll see you later, Bob."
Mike stood up and left. He went to the radio station Jerry was broadcasting from. He called the day before and told them what happened, and they were having a heck of a time trying to find replacements.
"How long is the Geator going to be out of commission?" the station manager asked.
"Quite some time," Mike said. "I can't really tell you for how long, though."
"Any rough estimates?"
"A month or two. Maybe more. I just don't know."
"You want to take over the show today?"
"I just came by to sort through Jer's records, but okay. I'm not doin' much of anythin' else. But just today, and whenever I have the time. Most of the time I'm gonna be hangin' out with Jerry."
"Aren't you worried you'll catch what he's got?"
"It's not contagious. He was just bit by a mosquito on steroids."
Mike went into the studio and began going through some of Jerry's records. He decided to dedicate the show to nothing but Doo Wop, just for Jerry, although he knew he wouldn't be listening. Mike turned on the tape recorder and then put on a record.
"Greetin's California," he said. "Monkee Maestro Mike pinch hittin' for the Geator with the Heater who's under the weather. Way under. This is the Doo Wop show, and nothin' but for the whole two hours, so grab your lettermen's sweaters, poodle skirts, and saddle shoes as the Monkee Maestro takes you back, back, back in time to these sounds."
Mike put on a record and turned off the microphone. Then he heaved a sigh.
"How does he do it?" he asked.
After "The Monkee Maestro" was done recording, he gave the tape to the program director, and then went back to sorting through Jerry's records. When he was done taking some from the station, he headed to Hank's house.
"Where does Jerry keep all his records?" he asked.
"Don't ask me," Christine said. "I don't know what he does with all those records. You might want to ask Linda."
"I can't. Linda's at school."
"Well, then you'll just have to look around for yourself."
Mike and Christine then went upstairs and began digging through the house, looking for Jerry's records. They found a good stack of them in the basement next to some old recording equipment Hank kept around for the heck of it. Mike took a selected few, as well as an old record player.
"Well, I'm off to Rampart," Mike said.
"Hank's there already," Christine replied.
"Oh good. Joe wanted him to fill out some forms."
Mike left the Stanleys. Then he went back to his house before heading on over to Rampart. He retrieved a large shopping bag from underneath the counter and loaded the records and the record player into it. Phyllis watched.
"Amazing," she said. "The witch does packing the mortal way."
"Don't get cute," Mike said. "I'm in absolutely no mood. Hand me that radio over there, would you?"
"Sure," Phyllis said. "What do you need this for?"
"I'm bringin' it over to Rampart along with some of Jerry's records and his record player."
"Ah ha. I'll go with you. You know. Help you lug this stuff around."
"Great, thanks. Let's hit it."
Mike and Phyllis went out to the car, with the records and other stuff. Once they arrived, they immediately went up to the third floor. Hank was inside, filling out some form or another.
"I could've told you they needed you to fill out forms," Mike said.
"Well, Jerry can't fill these out himself, you know," Hank said. "I have to do it."
"Right. So, how's he doin'?"
"You're asking me? He was awake a few minutes ago, and then went back to sleep. He never stays awake for more than two or three minutes."
Mike nodded. He sat down in a chair next to Hank and proceeded to read the form over his shoulder.
"Do you mind?" Hank asked.
"No, not really," Mike replied.
"Okay, okay, sorry, Cap. I gotta do somethin' to keep my spirits up, you know."
"Yeah, I know. Just don't read over my shoulder or joke about it, all right? I don't like anybody breathing down my neck."
Mike just nodded. After awhile, Jerry groaned, and opened his eyes, slowly.
"Hi, Mike," he said.
"Hey Jerry," Mike replied. "How are you?"
"Tired. All I ever feel like doing is sleeping."
"Well, I brought you some stuff. I went down to the radio station, made a tape for them to use, and then collected some of your records. So then I went to Cap's, and got some more of your records, and your portable record player. Then I went home to get my old radio, the one I don't use anymore. I thought I'd lighten the mood of this hospital a little."
"Mike, I appreciate you getting me my records, really, but, well, I don't know if I've got enough strength to get up and play them."
"Trust me, Jerry, you don't," Hank replied, putting the forms aside for a minute. "You try to get up now, you'll fall flat on your face. Your legs will never hold you."
"No problem," Mike replied. "I'll put ‘em on for you."
"You didn't bring his whole collection, did you?" Phyllis asked.
"Nah, just bits and pieces," Mike said.
At that moment, one of the student nurses, Sharon Walters, walked into the room with a lunch tray.
"Hi guys," she said.
"Hi, Sharon," Mike said. "How's that case of Kel Brackophobia?"
"Getting better. Dixie just told me to think of him as a brother."
"I don't know why that doesn't work for me."
The others laughed. Sharon shook her head and walked towards Jerry.
"Well, you're awake for lunch, I see," she said.
"Yeah, I don't know for how long, though," Jerry replied.
"Every time I come in here, he's asleep," Sharon said to Mike. "I'll see you guys later."
"Bye," Mike said. Then he turned to Jerry. "What are they feedin' you?"
"They've got me on a liquid diet," Jerry replied. "Believe me, just thought of eating is making me nauseous."
"I can see why," Mike replied, looking at the lunch tray. "Even liquid diets don't look very appetizin'."
"I think they're gonna have to start feeding me intravenously," Jerry said. "I am really wiped. I can barely keep my eyes open."
"Yeah, sure. You go to sleep. I'll get rid of this . . . . . stuff."
Phyllis had to stifle a giggle. Everybody knows hospital food is more disgusting the cafeteria food and airline food put together. At any rate, Mike took the tray, threw it into the air, and made it disappear with a snap of his fingers.
"Cheater," Hank said.
"You got a form to fill out, remember?" Mike said.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah."
Mike sighed, and left. He didn't want to hang out at Rampart at the time. He just put Jerry's records in the corner, and then left. On the way home, he stopped by the baseball field. In case of an emergency like this, Jerry had lined up some replacements for his coaching duties. His pinch hitters happened to be Fluey, Multi, Coiley, and Sebastian. All four of them had to do it, because none of them alone had Jerry's high energy levels.
"Hey guys," Mike said, coming over. "How's the coachin' goin'?"
"All right," Fluey said. "These kids know the basics, that's about all I can tell you."
"They're almost ready for the Anaheim Angles or the LA Dodgers," Coiley said.
THWACK! The sound of a softball hitting a bat interrupted the conversation. The boys looked up at it and focused on practice. Gosalyn was playing the field and was going after the ball. Zipper, Lilly, and Leland were on the bases, and Jenny was the one who had hit the ball, and she was headed for first. Zipper was headed for home, Lilly was advancing towards third. Leland got a little disorganized, and headed for home plate as well, and he collided with Jenny on the way.
"Leeeland!" Jenny shouted.
"Uh oh," Sebastian said. "Damage Control Units on."
"This is the hard part," Multi said. "Breaking up fights."
"Yeah," Mike said. "I'll see you guys later. Good luck. These kids have pretty good energy levels. They connect with Jerry well."
"Heaven help us then," Fluey replied, and headed towards the field.
Mike shook his head, and left. He had a lot to think about. A week went by. Mike was still going in and out of Rampart. Jerry hadn't made any progress, either.
"This is completely nuts," Mike said.
"Did you get in touch with someone from the Other Realm?" Joe asked.
"I tried, but all I got was a whole lot of answerin' services."
"Isn't that always the way."
"I guess so, but I don't know what else to do."
"Well, don't worry. Everything will turn out all right."
"I hope so."
Mike went up to 345. Jerry was asleep, as usual. Mike sat down in his usual spot, and turned on the radio to a soft rock station. He knew Jerry wasn't big on soft rock, but he didn't want to put it on another station in the hospital. Mike put his hand on Jerry's forehead and sighed.
"You'd better start improvin' soon," he said. "I hate to think what Doc Brackett's gonna do if you don't start comin' around."
"If he doesn't start coming around, Doc Brackett's gonna do something drastic," Lynn said, coming into the room.
"Oh, hi, Lynn," Mike said. "I didn't know you were here."
"I just came in to see if he's made any progress since this morning. Kel gave him some antibiotics, but they haven't helped yet. We've tried injections, Aspirin, every kind of pill you can imagine, and nothing's worked."
"There's got to be somethin'."
"Well . . . . Kel, Joe, and I talked it over, and we decided to run some tests on him."
"What kind of tests?"
"Blood tests, bone marrow tests, X-rays . . . . . that sort of thing."
"Why do you want to do all that? I already told you, he was bit by a mosquito."
"I know, Mike, but Kel's thinking about putting Jerry on . . . . no. No, it's better I didn't tell you."
"Put Jerry on what, Lynn?"
"Nothing. Forget I said anything."
"Lynn, what does Dr. Brackett want to put Jerry on?"
"Mike, believe me, you don't want to know."
Thunder went off outside. The sudden noise caused Jerry to jolt to attention. He sat up and began breathing heavily.
"Oh, Mike, it was only you," he said.
"Sorry," Mike said. "I'm not really myself today. You feelin' any better?"
"I wish," Jerry said. Then he moaned. "Your thunderstorm kind of turned my stomach, you know?"
"Sorry, but Lynn made me mad," Mike replied.
"Lie back down, Jerry," Lynn said. "You need your rest. We've got a lot of stuff to do tomorrow."
"Like what?" Jerry asked.
"Just some tests," Lynn replied. "Dr. Brackett and Dr. Early want to check some things out."
"Okay," Jerry said, and closed his eyes. He fell asleep almost immediately. Lynn sighed and turned to Mike.
"You'd better go before you have another outburst," she said.
"Yeah, okay," Mike replied, and then left.
A few days passed. Mike had been in the radio station for the time, pinch hitting for Jerry. He was making tapes for them for times when he didn't feel up to coming in, since they were having a heck of a time finding replacements. But Mike dedicated the shows to stuff Jerry would play. There was no mention of the Beatles anywhere. After he made a tape one day, he went to Rampart. He passed the front desk, went straight for the elevator, and then headed for 345. When he got there, he got the shock of his life. There was an IV tube stuck in Jerry's arm.
"What the heck is this?" he asked.
"I really don't think you want to know," Linda said.
"Of course I do," Mike said. "What's goin' on?"
"Dr. Brackett put Jerry on chemotherapy," Christine said.
"Dr. Brackett did what?!" Mike yelled. "I'll kill him!"
"Uh oh, he found out," Lynn said. "Battle stations."
"Mike, please, keep your voice down," Dr. Brackett said.
"What's the big idea puttin' Jerry on chemo?!" Mike yelled. He wasn't about to keep his voice down. Not after what he found out.
"I had to," Dr. Brackett said. "I figured nothing else was working."
"I honestly hope you know what you're doin'. As far as I know, Jerry does not have any form of cancer what so ever."
"Except his astrological sign," Lynn said.
"Lynn, stay out of this," Mike said.
"Shuttin' up," Lynn replied.
"Look, Mike, I didn't say he had any form of cancer," Dr. Brackett continued. "I'm just trying to get this out of his system and out of Rampart. Maybe the chemo will work."
Mike didn't believe that for a second. He just knew all the chemotherapy was going to do was just make Jerry even more sick to his stomach, and cause his hair to fall out, but he didn't say a word. Yet. A few more days went by. Mike was already seeing a drastic change in Jerry's appearance. He looked thinner, and his hair had definitely seen better days.
"Thought so," he said.
"What?" Carole asked.
"I said to myself that all the chemo's gonna do is make him sicker, and make his hair fall out. Look at how skinny he is now!"
"Jerry was always a little skinny, Mike."
"Yeah, but he's skinnier."
"The chemo doesn't have anything to do with his weight loss, Mike. Jerry hasn't been eating. That's why he's losing weight."
"Oh. But his hair . . . . I mean, that's still the chemo."
"Yeah, that's the chemo. I'll tell this to Dr. Brackett."
Mike nodded. He had no idea how long Jerry would have to remain on chemotherapy, but he hoped it wasn't for long. Another week went by. Mike was back at Rampart. Lynn saw him heading for the elevator and ran over to him.
"I have to tell you something," she said.
"I'm almost afraid to ask," Mike replied.
"We took Jerry off the chemo. It wasn't working. Carole told Dr. Brackett that you said all it was going to do was make him sicker and cause his hair to fall out. And you were right."
"I hate to say I told him that, but I told him that."
"No you didn't. Carole did."
"Well, I hate to tell you this, but Jerry's hair . . . . well . . . ."
"All fell out, huh?"
"Well . . . . . yeah. He knows he was on chemo, and he's not too happy with the fact about his hair."
"Great. I'm gonna kill Brackett."
"Yeah, well, take a number. Jerry wants to throttle him as well."
"I'm goin' up there."
Mike went up to 345 and walked into the room. Jerry was actually awake for once, but he was staring at the ceiling. Mike got a good look at him. He was about as skinny as he was the week after Dr. Brackett put Jerry on chemo, and he had some kind of scarf tied around his head.
"Hi, Jer," Mike said, walking in. "I hear you wanna throttle Doc Brackett."
"Can you blame me?" Jerry asked.
"No, I certainly can't. I told him not too fool with this sort of thing. I mean, he's a moron."
"He'd better not hear you say that."
"Listen, Jerry, I can say that about him, and I can say that to his face. Dr. Brackett is nothin' but a moron."
Jerry laughed about that. Quickly, they dropped the whole subject of Dr. Brackett.
"So what have they got you on now?" he asked.
"Nothing," Jerry said. "They can't figure out how to get this out of my system."
"I'm stumped, too. I've called nearly every doctor in the Other Realm, but all I get is a bunch of answerin' services."
Jerry sighed. The whole thing was driving him crazy. Mike got up and left the scene. It had been a month since Jerry was bit by the mosquito, and he hadn't improved one bit. Not only was it wearing on Mike's nerves, Hank was being driven crazy by the entire thing himself. Every day, he'd spend at least an hour at Rampart with Jerry, which really surprised the heck out of Mike. But he didn't say anything about it. He was worried he would get in trouble with the chief.
"T.J. said you were gettin' a new chief pretty soon," he said. "So McConnikee's leavin' huh?"
"No, McConnikee's not leaving, unfortunately," Hank said. "He's the Battalion Chief. We're getting a new chief chief."
"Oh. Do you think it's wise to hang around here for an hour every single day, since all of you have to be on duty unless it's your day off?"
"I'll worry about that when the time comes, Nesmith."
The time came too soon. Hank left for Rampart when Chief McConnikee and the new chief, Milton LaRoc, arrived for a surprise inspection of Station 51. Everybody sort of tensed up. They were nervous about the entire check.
"Where's Cap?" Ned Redford asked.
"At Rampart," T.J. explained. "In with Jerry."
"Ten hut!" Chief LaRoc shouted. Everyone stood at attention. The new chief walked up and down the line, looking over the firemen.
"Well, everything seems to be in order in the station," he said. "Nice and clean. Just how I like it. Now, let's look over the men."
Chief LaRoc came to Ned first. He looked him over and then nodded.
"Mm hmm," he said. "You need to shave."
"Yes sir," Ned said. LaRoc continued to go down the line. He came to Paul Dunbar next.
"You need to shave, too," he said. "And quite possibly get a haircut. And stand up straight!"
"Yes sir!" Paul shouted, straightening up. When LaRoc wasn't looking, Paul gave him the dirtiest look he could muster. LaRoc didn't notice. He went to Bill Lohen next.
"Well, you look like a respectable fireman," he said. "Nice, clean uniform, standing at attention . . . . keep up the good work."
"Yes sir," Lohen said. "Thank you, sir."
LaRoc nodded and continued on. Ned and Paul both glared at Lohen.
"Remind me to ask Cap to put Lohen on latrine duty," Paul said.
"Got it," Ned replied.
LaRoc then turned to Dan and cringed.
"Get a haircut," he said coming directly to the point. Dan just nodded.
"Yes sir," he said. LaRoc walked away then. Dan felt like hurling something at Lohen, for some strange reason. LaRoc didn't notice. He turned to T.J. and grew wide-eyed. He gave the fireman/paramedic a strange look.
"Anyway . . . ." he said, passing T.J. completely.
"What happened?" T.J. asked, a little confused. Dan had to bite his lower lip to keep from cracking up!
"Well, McConnikee," LaRoc said. "Everything seems to be in order. These five have everything under control, despite their appearances."
"Yes, I know," McConnikee said. "These men . . . . wait a minute. Five you said? There's supposed to be six! Not counting the dog."
The firemen just looked at each other. They weren't sure what was going to happen next, but they had to do something.
"Let's see," LaRoc said. "Wilcox, Jacobs, Dunbar, Redford, Lohen . . . . Stanley! All right men, where's your captain?"
"Rampart General Hospital. Sir!" Paul shouted, somewhat like a military soldier.
"What in the world is he doing there?" McConnikee asked.
He'd get an answer to that. Just then, the front door opened, and Hank came inside, feeling frustrated.
"Those twits they've got for interns don't know anything," he said. "Dr. Brackett, Lynn, and Dr. Early should be the ones to handle this case, and not the interns! What's the matter with them?!"
"Uhh, Cap," T.J. said. "Did you meet Chief LaRoc yet?"
"No, why?" Hank asked.
"He's right behind you."
Hank turned around, and saw Chief McConnikee and Chief LaRoc standing there, looking ready to kill Hank.
"Oops," Hank replied. "Hi. Uhh, listen, I can explain."
"It had better be good," McConnikee said.
"Well, it's my son-in-law," Hank said. "He's contracted this illness, and he's been stuck at Rampart for a month now, and I was just worried about him, so I've been leaving for an hour every day to see him and . . . ."
"An hour every day?!" LaRoc shouted. "Even when you're supposed to be on duty?!"
"I know, sir, I know," Hank said. "I don't blame you for being mad, but to me, family comes before profession."
McConnikee and LaRoc just stared at Hank as if he was crazy. Then they left, deciding they'd handle the situation another time. Everybody thought Hank would only go visit Jerry at Rampart on his days off. Surprisingly, he continued to go through the routine of ducking out for an hour. Mike was really surprised.
"Aren't you afraid you'll lose your job?" he asked.
"Nah," Hank said. "If they kick me out of service, I can always become an astronaut."
"I'm serious. Well, you're in here more than I am, anyway. Any headway yet?"
"Don't I wish. I'm tempted to call Bob and tell him to get a new Dynamic Duo."
"Unfortunately, yes. He's been zonked for a month now, and nothin' has worked on this boy."
"Well, something's got to give sooner or later."
"Yeah. I just hope it's more sooner than later."
Hank nodded, and he and Mike left. They weren't exactly sure what they were going to do about this, but they'd figure something out. Or so Mike hoped. Jerry was in bad shape. He slept all the time, and only woke up for a full duration of two minutes. And if that wasn't bad enough, he was starting to have nightmares. The radio was on, and Frank Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night" was playing. Jerry heard it vividly. Slowly, he opened his eyes, and he could barely make out three figures standing over him.
"Hey, would ya look at this?" an all too familiar voice asked. "Looks like the Geator's down and out!"
"Hey, what's the matter, Jer?" another familiar voice asked. "Gonna let a little fever get you down?"
"Quick, let's get into doctor mode," another voice asked.
Jerry's vision cleared by that time, and he could clearly make out Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. and that alone scared the heck out of him.
"What are you guys doing here?" he asked. Before he could say anything else, Dean jammed a thermometer in his mouth, and raised his wrist.
"Let's check the ol' pulse here," he said.
Not even three minutes went by when Frank yanked the thermometer out and looked at it.
"Hmm," he said. "He's in very bad shape."
"I must be losing it," Jerry said. "You guys are acting more like the Marx Brothers than the Rat Pack!"
"Yeah, well," Sammy said. "We hang out with Harpo, Chico, Groucho, and Zeppo every weekend up there, you know. You hang around them for awhile, and see how sane you are!"
"That sounds familiar," Jerry said.
"Sure it does," Dean said. "That's what your pal Nesmith says about you when you're not around."
"Oh yeah, I know," Jerry said. "So what are you guys doing here?"
"Visiting," Frank said. "We couldn't come in during visiting hours. The nurses would flip."
"You got some great lookin' nurses at this hospital, Geator," Dean said.
"If I were still kicking, I'd die happy here," Frank said.
"Please don't mention that word," Sammy said. "Don't wanna freak out Jerry, now do we?"
"Oh yeah. Yeah," Frank said. "The sight of us standing here must be a little overwhelming, isn't it, my friend?"
"Well . . . . considering you guys have been dead for awhile," Jerry said.
"Yeah," Dean said. "Well, we're not just visiting. We're here to give you a message from the man upstairs."
"Do I want to know?" Jerry asked.
"Yeah," Sammy said. "He says you'd better shape up, pal, or else your next gig will be at the Pearly Gates, my friend."
"He didn't say that did he?!" Jerry asked, suddenly panicked.
"Eh, something like that," Dean said. "We'll catch you later, Jerry."
With that, the Rat Pack went off, singing three hits simultaneously. Jerry just sat there, staring at them, nervously. That was enough to wake him up! He shot up with a start, and then groaned. He began to massage his forehead. Dixie walked in to check on him.
"Hi, Jerry," she said. "Glad to see you're awake."
"I just had the worst dream," Jerry said. "Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra were here. They told me if I didn't shape up soon, my next gig would be at the Pearly Gates."
"Jerry, that was just a nightmare," Dixie said. "Things like that just don't happen. I can promise you, your next gig won't be at the Pearly Gates."
"You sure? I mean, it's been . . . . . how long?"
"A month?! I've been sick a month?! And I'm not making any progress . . . . . I'm not getting any better . . . . . you should just shoot me and put me out of my misery!"
"Okay, calm down. You just need some rest. I'll go get you a sleeping pill to relax you. Okay?"
"Sure. Why not?"
Dixie sighed, and left. Jerry sighed as well. The whole thing was driving him crazy. Mike wasn't a barrel of laughs himself. He constantly went over movie scripts for some reason or another.
"We could do one without Jerry, you know," Davy said. "I mean, we gotta do something."
"I know, but I don't know what," Mike said. "Bob doesn't want to do one without him, and frankly, neither do I."
"You may not 'ave a choice, Mike. I was just in there, and Jerry's not making any progress at all."
"Look, Davy, I don't want to talk about this right now. It's been a month, and nothin' has happened."
"What ah we going to do?"
"I don't know."
Mike began to massage his forehead. The whole concept was driving him completely insane. Two weeks went by. Mike was constantly in and out of the hospital. Hank was, too. He had managed to convince McConikee and LaRoc that family was more important than work, and they actually let him get away with what he was doing, as long as he carried around a radio, just in case of a fire or something.
"I need to remain available," he explained to Mike. "Just in case a fire breaks out when I'm over here."
"Makes sense to me," Mike said. "Personally, I think they should just give them a substitute captain."
"That's not the way it goes, Mike."
"Yeah, I know that. So what's been goin' on? I've been at Screen Gems most of the time now."
"Well, they've got interns working on Jerry. I personally think they're doing something to him that Dr. Brackett hasn't authorized."
"Oh they haven't, Hank!" Dr. Brackett shouted. "As a matter of fact I took the interns off this case."
"Good," Hank said. "I don't know why you put them on in the first place."
"I just did," Dr. Brackett said. "I wasn't thinking."
"So, what's the story about the case now?" Mike asked.
"We are getting absolutely nowhere," Dr. Brackett said. "I should never have put him on chemo."
"Yeah, you shouldn't have."
"Don't get technical, Nesmith."
"You said you knew what you were doin'!"
"I thought it would help!"
"I wouldn't have risked it!"
"Guys, this is a hospital, remember?" Hank asked. "We've got a very sick patient in here."
Mike and Dr. Brackett agreed on that and stopped arguing. For the time being. For the next week, Mike went back and forth between room 345 and the front desk, getting updates. Finally, exactly two weeks later, just as they reached the two month mark, they finally got a breakthrough. Mike was about to come into Rampart, and Lynn ran into him, and knocked him off his feet.
"Mike!" she shouted. "Mike! We did it! We did it! We've made some headway! Whee!"
"What? What happened?" Mike asked. "What did you do?"
"I don't know what it did, but we've got Jerry's fever down."
"You did? Great! How soon can he leave?"
"Ehh, not for awhile. I said we got it down, but he's not a ninety-eight point six as of yet."
"What is it down to now?"
"A hundred two."
"Well, that's not too bad."
"Yeah, but we still want to keep him here for a little while longer. We've got more good news, too. His hair's finally looking okay."
"Oh yeah. But it's a little shorter . . . . . and somewhat of a dark red color."
"Dark red? How did that happen?"
"Well, when most cancer patients are in remission and their hair starts to grow back, it tends to be either a different color or a different style . . . . and Jerry's happens to be changing color."
"Does it have to do with somethin' in the chemo?"
"I really don't know. But he's not sleeping as much anymore, that's another good thing."
Mike nodded, and went up to 345. He entered the room and saw that Jerry (for once) wasn't sleeping. He was sitting up, reading a book.
"Any good?" Mike asked.
"Hey," Jerry said. "Yeah, Quacky was in here, and he loaned it to me. It beats boredom."
"I take it hospital TV's don't get too many good channels."
"I guess not."
"I see they got rid of that stupid scarf, huh?"
"Well, now that my hair's growing back, I don't really think I need it too much."
"On the upside, though, Jer, that color looks pretty good on you. But there's a downside, too."
"I know. I saw it. It looks like I've got a receding hairline, huh?"
"Eh, I'm not worried. My hair will probably grow back fully anyway. So what have you been doing when you're not in here?"
"Not much. Bob doesn't want to do a movie. Davy wants us to do one, just to keep us goin', I guess. I can't really concentrate on anythin'."
"Oh. I guess you haven't talked to Sabrina lately, huh?"
"No, I . . . ."
The phone rang just then. Mike reached over and picked it up.
"Hello?" he asked.
"Hi, Mike," Sabrina said. "Haven't heard from you in awhile."
"Oh, Sabrina, hi. We were just talkin' about you. How'd you know I was here?"
"Phyllis told me you were at the hospital, but that was all she said. I take it your visit's off, then, if you're in the hospital."
"Oh gosh, I completely forgot. Well, I'm not in the hospital, per se. Jerry is. One of those mosquitoes stowed away in my backpack, and it bit Jerry, so he's in here, not me. I'm just hangin' out with him, you know?"
"Oh, I get it. So are you still coming up to Westbridge?"
"Uhh . . . . hang on a sec."
Mike put his hand over the mouthpiece and turned to Jerry.
"What?" Jerry asked.
"I was supposed to visit Sabrina and my aunts this month," Mike explained. "I completely forgot about it. I'm supposed to leave tomorrow mornin'."
"I see. So go."
"With you here? No way!"
"Mike, look, I'm okay. Really. I'm not as sick I was two months ago. Besides, I've got a phone. Go ahead and call whenever."
"Okay, but what about the three hour time difference?"
Mike sighed and turned back to the phone.
"Sab? You still there?" he asked.
"Yeah, I'm still here," Sabrina said. "You coming to visit or what?"
"Yeah. Yeah I'm comin' up there. You know I go the mortal way, anyway so I'll be there, sure."
"Okay. See you."
Mike hung up and turned to Jerry.
"You sure you want me to go?" he asked.
"Mike, you gotta get away from here for awhile," Jerry said. "I'll be okay. Really. So stop worrying about it."
"Okay. I'll go. If you insist."
"I do insist."
Mike wasn't so sure. He couldn't shake the worrying feeling. Morning rolled around. Mike made a quick stop at Rampart before he had to get to the airport.
"I want to give you my aunts' number," he said, handing a piece of paper to Lynn. "Jerry already knows the number, in case he wants to call me. And I'm givin' it to you guys to keep me posted."
"Mike, I already know the number," Carole said.
"I know, but I'm a little nervous here," Mike said.
"Mike, relax," Lynn said. "You're even making me nervous!"
"Sorry, but I can't help it!"
"We'll call you if anything happens. Now go and get out of here you nut! Have a vacation."
"We know what we're doing."
"Yeah, but don't let Brackett near him when I'm gone."
"Got it. No prob."
"And call me with an update, okay? I want to know everythin'."
"Okay, fine. Gotcha."
"I gave you the number right?"
"Maybe I oughta borrow Bob's or Quacky's cell phone, just in case."
Mike got the drift. He was off. Lynn shook her head and sighed. There were times when Mike completely drove her crazy. At any rate, Mike went directly to the airport, really wishing he had borrowed Bob's or Quacky's cell phones. The flight was long, and nerve wracking. He also wished he would've gone through the Other Realm to get to Boston, but it was too late for that now. Besides, he knew his aunts and his cousin would be waiting for him at the airport. The plane finally landed. Mike grabbed his stuff out of the overhead bin once the plane had come to a complete stop, and then practically ran off the plane. He ran through the gate, and then looked around for a moment or so. Then he used his magic to scan the crowd. There was no trace of his family, so he went directly to the nearest payphone. He checked his watch. It was three o' clock East Coast time, which meant it was probably one o' clock West Coast. He put a quarter in the phone and dialed Rampart.
"Rampart General Hospital," Carole said.
"Hey Carole, it's me," Mike said. "I'm callin' from the airport. I'm just, you know, checkin' in."
"Nothing's happened, Mike," Carole said, feeling slightly exasperated. "Stop worrying, will you?!"
"I can't help it!"
"Look, he's about the same as he was when you left, okay? There's not much we can do about this. Why don't you ask Zelda about this sort of thing? She's a scientist, you know."
"Okay. I'll call later. Bye."
Mike hung up and continued walking around the airport. He finally caught site of Hilda, Zelda, and Sabrina, and the three of them were arguing over something.
"Maybe he decided to skip out on the trip," Hilda said.
"I know he would have liked to," Sabrina said. "But he said he'd be here. Look, maybe he hasn't gotten off the plane yet."
"He's probably at the cafeteria," Zelda suggested. "You know he's hypoglycemic."
"Actually, I was callin' home," Mike said, coming over. "You weren't around, so I decided to check in."
"Hi, Mike," Zelda said.
"Yeah, hi," Mike replied. "Can we go?"
"Sure," Hilda said. "Let's get your luggage and we'll be off."
Hilda and Zelda did a quick check to make sure no one was looking, and then zapped. Mike's luggage appeared from out of nowhere, and the group walked off.
"Did you tell them about Jerry?" Mike asked.
"Not yet," Sabrina said. "You want me to?"
"Not especially. I'm completely frazzled about it, and I don't want Aunt Hilda or Aunt Zelda to know about it."
Mike nodded. He didn't want to bring up the subject. He was already a wreck. The car ride home was a quiet one. The three witches decided to humor Mike, since he liked doing a lot of things the mortal way, and he couldn't just zap himself to appear anywhere, anyway.
"You're awfully quiet, Mike," Zelda said. "Is something wrong?"
"No, not really," Mike replied. "I'm just thinkin'."
"About what?" Hilda asked.
"Nothin' really," Mike replied.
That was the end of that conversation. Once they got to the house, they were met by Sabrina's cat, Salem.
"Hiya, Tex," he said to Mike. "How's things going?"
"Hi, Salem," Mike said, and walked off.
"Hi Salem?" Salem repeated. "Is he all right? He hates it when I call him Tex!"
"Yeah, something's on his mind, but he doesn't want to talk," Sabrina said. "Not right now, anyway."
Mike sat down on the couch. Sabrina sat down next to him, and the two of them turned on the TV. There probably wasn't anything on, but it didn't matter to them. They weren't really watching. Sabrina was dying to ask about Jerry, but she didn't want to push Mike. Finally, Salem spoke up.
"Oh, by the way, Mike," he said. "Your dad called here earlier."
"Yeah?" Mike asked. "What did he want?"
"He wanted to know if you landed okay," he said. "You know, got here all right. I told him you haven't gotten here yet. He thought you skipped the flight after I told him you weren't here."
"I'll call him," Zelda said. "Let him know you made it all right, Mike."
Zelda picked up the phone and dialed California.
"Hello, Warren?" she said. "It's Zelda. Yes, Mike just got here. Was he all right when he left? He seems sort of withdrawn. Nervous? What about? Well, what's wrong with Jerry? Oh, you're kidding! Yes, I'll ask him about this. Okay. Bye."
Zelda hung up the phone and turned to Mike.
"Mike, why didn't you tell us about the mosquito?" she asked.
"I promised myself I wouldn't worry about Jerry too much over this trip," Mike replied. "Of course, it isn't workin'. I was gonna skip the flight, but I didn't."
"Wait a minute, I'm confused," Hilda said. "What mosquito?"
"Remember back in January when Mike and I went camping in the Other Realm, Aunt Hilda?" Sabrina asked. "Well, an Other Realm mosquito stowed away in Mike's bag, and it got loose in LA."
"Yeah, and it bit Jerry in the neck," Mike said. "He's been in the hospital since, and they just made some headway, but I'm still worried."
"Did Dr. Brackett do anything with him?" Zelda asked. "Antibiotics, pills, that sort of thing?"
"They gave him every pill imaginable," Mike said. "And Dr. Moron put him on chemotherapy. All that did was make him more sick. And lose his hair. But that's Brackett for ya."
"Aunt Zelda, isn't there anything you can do?" Sabrina asked.
"No," Zelda said. "I can't. I've never dealt with this sort of thing before. I'm sorry, Mike. But I'll get in touch with Kate. She seems to know everything."
"Yeah, Mike," Sabrina said. "Aunt Kate will know what to do."
Mike wasn't listening. His mind was too far away from the world. The next day happened to be a Monday. Sabrina had to go to school.
"We've got to time our visits better," Sabrina said. "Back in January, I was still on winter break."
"I know," Mike said. "And spring break doesn't come until April, which is precisely why you visit me in December, April, June, and August, and I come up every other month or so."
"You want to come to school with me? I told Harvey and Valerie you were here."
"And not use my magic? I'll pass."
"Come on. It might take your mind off Jerry. Besides, you can use your magic, so long as no one sees you."
"Well, it may do me some good to bug your vice principal, or that Libby girl you're always complainin' about."
Mike stood up, and followed Sabrina out the door. The two of them headed for Westbridge High School then. The halls were packed as usual. People were rushing back and forth to their lockers, and inside classrooms.
"It's Carson all over again," Mike said.
"That's where Linda and Fluey and all them go, right?" Sabrina asked.
"Yeah, that's right."
Sabrina nodded and stopped at her locker. She began fiddling with the dial, and Mike stepped away for a moment to looked around. After awhile, Sabrina's best friend, Valerie Berkhead, ran over.
"Is he here?" she asked.
"Yeah, he's over there by the drinking fountain," Sabrina said. "Val, I have to warn you . . . . Mike's not really . . . . up to this visit. So keep the swooning to a minimum."
"Well, it's his best friend, Jerry. He . . . ."
"Hey, Sabrina!" Sabrina's boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle, called out, and he ran over. "Where's your cousin?"
"Right here in the school," Sabrina said. "But he's not feeling quite like himself, and the last thing he wants is attention being called to him. See, what happened was . . . . ."
The bell rang before Sabrina could explain what was going on, but she promised to fill them in during lunch. She retrieved Mike and the two of them went to their first class. Mike basically staid in the back of all the classrooms, trying not to attract any unnecessary attention to himself. Lunchtime rolled around. Mike and Sabrina entered the cafeteria and headed for the line. The two of them quickly got out of line and sat down.
"I'm gonna go pick up some extra sugar," Mike said, standing up. "I'll be back."
Sabrina nodded, and Mike headed for the soda machine. By the time he left, Harvey and Valerie arrived and sat down at their usual table.
"Where's Mike?" Valerie asked.
"He went to get some soda," Sabrina said. "He's hypoglycemic, low blood sugar. He's gotta eat constantly."
"Is that what's bugging him?" Harvey asked.
"No," Sabrina said. "Look, I'd better tell you fast before he comes back. See, a couple of months ago, his best friend, Jerry, got really sick, and had to go to the hospital, and he's been there since."
"He's still sick?" Valerie asked.
"Yeah, very sick," Sabrina said. "They didn't make any progress until the other day. Mike had to be talked into coming up here to visit. He's trying to get his mind off Jerry."
"Well," Westbridge High School's head cheerleader (and number one snob), Libby Chessler, said. "If he's a friend of your cousin, Sabrina, it's no surprise he's in the hospital. Freak. I'll bet your cousin's a freak, too. If he's related to you, that is."
"Libby," Sabrina said. "Butt out, okay? I don't have time to deal with you. And I wouldn't call my cousin a freak to his face. He's got a temper the size of Texas."
Just then, another friend of Sabrina's, Gordy, ran over.
"You guys won't believe this!" he shouted. "But there's a guy by the soda machine who looks exactly like Mike Nesmith of the Monkees!"
"That's because it is Mike Nesmith of the Monkees," Mike said, coming over to the table. He sat down, and passed around sodas to Sabrina, Valerie, and Harvey. Then he opened his own and began to drink it. Everybody was staring at the table.
"Can I introduce you?" Sabrina asked.
"Go for it," Mike said.
"Everybody, this is Mike Nesmith," she said. Everybody just stared.
"How do you know him?" Libby asked. "And why would he want to sit with a bunch of freaks?"
"Because he's my cousin," Sabrina said, feeling somewhat satisfactory.
"You mean, your cousin Mike, the one you always talk about," Gordy said. "He's Mike Nesmith?!"
"Yep," Mike said. "What was that you called me, Libby? Freak, you said?"
Libby turned a nice shade of pink, and slunk off. Valerie and Harvey began laughing. Sabrina and Mike gave each other five.
"I don't think Libby will be buggin' you for awhile," Mike replied.
"I'll bet that took your mind off Jerry," Valerie said.
"Val!" Sabrina hissed.
"Well it did until you brought it up," Mike said.
"Oops," Valerie said.
Mike just shook his head and drank his soda. He more or less picked at the food in front of him.
"Worse than Carson," he muttered.
That was basically the end of the lunchtime conversation then and there. Things weren't going very well elsewhere, either. Zelda was working at her laptop laboratory, trying to develop something Mike could take back to Los Angeles for Jerry. Hilda was at an audition with her violin, and Salem was laying by the phone. It rang at about noon, during the school's lunchtime. Salem pushed the button.
"Yello?" he said.
"Uhh, Mike?" Lynn asked.
"Mike's not here," Salem said. "Who's this?"
"This is Lynn . . . . uhh, who's this?"
"Salem!" Zelda shouted, grabbing the phone. "I told you not to answer the phone!"
"I lucked out," Salem said. "The call's for Mike. Somebody named Lynn."
"Lynn? Oh, Dr. Dova at Rampart."
"Helloooo?" Lynn asked. "I know you're there, I can hear you breathing."
"Lynn? Hi, this is Zelda Spellman," Zelda said.
"Who was I talking to before?"
"Oh, that was the cat."
"Normally, I'd think you'd need a CAT scan after telling me the cat picked up the phone, but since you are Mike's aunt, after all, I'll let it slide. Where's Mike? I gotta talk to him."
"He's out. Why? Is something wrong?"
"Well, I'm sorry to say this, but yes."
"It's about Jerry, isn't it?"
"I'm afraid so. His temperature went up, but only about two degrees. He's up to a hundred and four."
"Sabrina told me it was a hundred and two."
"That was a couple of days ago, Ms. Spellman, you understand that. Will you tell that to Mike for me? I think he should know."
"All right. Thanks for the update."
Zelda hung up the phone. Just as she did, Hilda returned.
"I'm home," she said. "The audition went very well, I'm glad to say."
"I was hoping you were Mike," Zelda said. "Hilda, Dr. Dova just called from Rampart."
"Uh oh, you've got that look on your face. What's wrong?"
"Nothing, except Jerry's fever went up."
"Oh no. Who knows how long Mike's going to be out."
"He'll probably come home with Sabrina," Salem said. "He went to school with her."
That was all there was to that. Throughout the entire day, people were tempted to ask Mike for an autograph, but Sabrina advised against it.
"He really isn't in the mood," Sabrina said.
That was all it took. Everybody left Mike alone after that, except, of course, the vice principal, Mr. Kraft. He walked by, handing out detention slips. He ripped off one and handed it to Sabrina.
"What's this for?" she asked. "I didn't do anything."
"That's just in case you do," Mr. Kraft said.
"Eesh," Mike said. "Is it any wonder Aunt Hilda hates this guy?"
"And here's a detention slip for you," Mr. Kraft said, handing Mike a slip. "Just for being with Miss Spellman here."
"You can't give me detention," Mike said, calmly. "I'm twenty-three years old. I don't go to high school. I'm just visitin'."
"Then where's your visitor's pass?"
Mike reached into his pocket, and then snapped his fingers. He pulled out the pass and practically shoved it in Mr. Kraft's face.
"Satisfied, big boy?" he asked.
"Well, it looks authentic enough," Mr. Kraft said.
"Darn right it is," Mike grumbled.
"I heard that," Mr. Kraft said. "Miss Spellman, who is this . . . . this . . . . this long haired weirdo?"
"Weirdo?! Why I oughta . . . ." Mike started.
"Uhh, Mr. Kraft, this is my cousin," Sabrina said. "Mike Nesmith."
"Listen, Mr. Nipsmouth," Mr. Kraft said. "In my day, men didn't walk around with long hair like that."
"I happen to be a singer," Mike said. "And the name is Nesmith! Get it right or else I'm gonna get ugly!"
"Is that a threat, Mister?" Mr. Kraft said.
"I wouldn't get him mad, Mr. Kraft!" Sabrina warned. "He punched a hole in the wall, once."
"I can take out a line of lockers," Mike warned. "I can snap you like a twig, Kraft!"
"Well, I'll just have to keep my eye on you," Mr. Kraft said, and then he walked off.
"I don't believe that guy," Mike said.
"He's pop culture challenged," Sabrina said.
Mike nodded, and snapped his fingers. When Mr. Kraft opened the door to his office, a bucket of water emptied all over him. Everybody began to laugh.
"Mike," Sabrina said.
"Couldn't help myself," Mike said.
"Hey, did you guys see what happened to Mr. Kraft?" Harvey asked, coming over.
"Yeah," Mike said. "I tell you, senior pranks get more risky year after year."
Harvey nodded, and walked off. Sabrina then turned to Mike.
"Where were you when I needed good excuses?" she asked.
Mike laughed. The final bell rang, and the two cousins headed back to the house. The two of them walked inside, talking and laughing about what happened.
"We finally got Libby good," Sabrina said. "She called Mike a freak, and then realized she just called Mike Nesmith a freak! Boy, was her face red! And he really gave Mr. Kraft what he deserved!"
"We're glad you're home," Zelda said. "Your friend, Lynn, called earlier, Mike."
"Lynn called?" Mike asked. "From Rampart?"
"Yes," Zelda continued.
"Oh no," Mike said. "What happened?"
"It isn't necessarily bad news, Mike," Sabrina said. "Lynn probably called to say Jerry's doing a lot better."
"No, Sabrina," Mike said. "It's bad news. I can smell bad news a mile off. Even before I knew I was a witch, I could smell bad news a mile away."
"Well, you're right," Zelda said. "It is bad news. Jerry's fever went up a couple of degrees. His temperature is now a hundred and four."
"Oh great. Just great. First it goes down, then it goes up again. Pretty soon, it'll go up again."
"Look on the bright side, Mike," Hilda said. "At least it didn't spike up there, now."
"That's the bright side?" Mike asked. "Jerry's been sick two months, and we can't get his fever down, nobody knows what to do . . . . . I don't even know why you bothered to tell me!"
Mike then ran up the stairs and slammed the guest bedroom door. Sabrina looked at her aunts.
"Sheesh, why did you tell him that?" she asked. "I just got his mind off Jerry."
"I know, but I felt we had to tell him," Zelda said. "If he found out after he got back to California, and found out we knew, he'd be even more upset."
"I'd better go talk to him," Sabrina said.
"I don't think that's a good idea," Hilda said. "You know how his temper is."
"Yeah, you're right," Sabrina said.
A few hours went by. Mike still hadn't come out of his room. Zelda went to check on him. She slowly opened the door, and found him laying on his stomach on his bed.
"Mike?" she asked. "Can I come in?"
"Sure," Mike replied, not moving.
"Are you all right?"
"No. I'm worried. I'm too worried. I can't think straight. What's gonna happen if they can't get Jerry's fever down?"
"Mike, don't worry about that. Jerry's going to be fine."
"You don't know that for sure. I don't even know that for sure. I may be psychic, but I can't see into the future. I think that's a different kind of psychic. Aunt Zelda, I'm really scared. Jerry hasn't improved at all, and I honestly think I should be there instead of here."
"You know what? I think it's a little too nerve wracking for you to be here right now, what with Jerry in the hospital and all. I think maybe you should go back to California."
Mike nodded. The two of them went back down the stairs and made some quick phone calls.
"What's going on?" Hilda asked.
"Mike's going back to California," Zelda said. "We realized it was too nerve wracking for him to be here while Jerry's sick."
"Yeah, I shouldn't have asked you to come up," Sabrina said. "But is it okay if I come down there?"
"Sure," Mike said.
Zelda managed to get Mike on the next flight out leaving that night. They went to the airport right away. It was only about four in the afternoon when Mike arrived in Los Angeles. Warren and Carole were waiting for him.
"I take it you got word," Warren said.
"Yeah," Mike said. "I gotta get to Rampart now."
"Of course," Carole said. "Come on."
The three hailed a cab, and headed to Rampart General Hospital right away. Mike went directly to room 345. Jerry was asleep again. He woke up once Mike entered the room.
"Hi," he said. "Are you really here, Mike? Or am I dreaming again?"
"It's me," Mike said. "Lynn said your fever went up. It was too nerve wrackin' for me to be in Massachusetts, and you bein' here."
"So you gonna stay here all night?"
"Probably for awhile. At least until Doc Brackett kicks me out."
Jerry laughed over that one, and went back to sleep. It was an agonizing process. The waiting was driving him completely insane. The weeks passed. Mike walked into Rampart one morning, just as Dr. Brackett checked off something on his calendar.
"Don't tell me," Mike said. "We've hit the three month mark."
"Yep," Dr. Brackett said. "By the way, one of your aunts called."
"I don't know! I can't keep track of all your aunts! She said she was going to get with Kate and they were going to try to mix up something for Jerry."
"That would be Aunt Zelda."
"Well, whatever. Kate's going to Massachusetts to look in on this."
"Okay, good. So how's Jerry, anyway?"
"I don't know what's going on with him. His fever went down, then it went back up, then down, then up . . . . I don't know."
"This is a very tricky illness, doc. I can't explain it any better than you. We're not even sure what it is."
Dr. Brackett didn't say anything to that. Mike just went up to room 345 to visit Jerry. Jerry was staring up at the ceiling.
"Hey buddy," Mike said, coming in. "How's it goin'?"
"I'm depressed," Jerry said, flatly.
"Hey, I'd be too if I were stuck in here for three months."
"That's not why I'm depressed. It's April fifth. Linda's birthday is the ninth, and it doesn't look like I'm gonna be out of here for it."
Mike put his hand on Jerry's forehead, and clicked his tongue against his teeth.
"Definitely not," he replied, shaking his head. "Still runnin' a fever there. A yo-yo fever, accordin' to Dr. Brackett."
"I know," Jerry replied. "Nobody can't figure what's up with me."
"Includin' me. Anyways, Aunt Kate and Aunt Zelda are workin' on it up in Massachusetts."
"I just wish this were over with."
Mike sighed. He didn't know what else to say about that. He just sat there with Jerry for awhile.
"Hi," a voice said. Mike turned around and saw Sabrina standing in the doorway.
"What are you doin' here?" Mike asked.
"Spring break," Sabrina replied. "Uncle Warren said you were here."
"Phyllis didn't send you?"
"Phyllis is at the radio station covering for Jerry."
"Oh yeah, I forgot."
"I didn't know Phyllis played DJ," Jerry said.
"Well, the radio station wanted me to take over, but I couldn't," Mike explained. "So Phyllis took over."
"Oh," Jerry said.
"Aunt Zelda decided to come up with me," Sabrina said. "She and Aunt Kate are going back and forth. They're here using the lab here. Joe let them do that."
"Now how come you guys can call him Joe, and I have to call him Dr. Early?" Jerry asked.
"Because he's datin' our aunt," Mike explained.
"Ah ha," Jerry said.
"Well, you're obviously feeling a little better, Jer," Sabrina said.
"Yeah, a little," Jerry said. "I still feel pretty lousy, though. But I'm doing a lot better than I was back in January and February."
"I can't believe you've been sick for three months," Sabrina said. "This must be killing Captain Stanley."
"We reached an agreement," Mike said. "I pay for half the bills, he pays the other half."
"Mike, you don't have to do that," Jerry said.
"Yes I do," Mike replied.
"Hey guys?" Lynn asked. "I hate to cut this visit short, but I have to do the preliminary check-up."
"Yeah, okay," Mike said. "Come on, Sab. Let's go see what Aunt Kate and Aunt Zelda are doin'."
Mike and Sabrina left. They went up to the lab. Kate and Zelda were looking at things through test tubes. Joe was looking through some paperwork they were filling out.
"Hey guys," Mike said.
"Hi Michael," Kate said.
"Lynn kicked us out," Sabrina said. "So we thought we'd come in and take a look around. See what you guys were doing."
"Not much I'm afraid," Zelda said.
"We're gonna need some samples," Kate said. "Directly from Jerry's person."
"Run some tests?" Mike asked.
"I'm afraid so," Joe replied. "That's why Lynn kicked you out. She was going to draw some blood and bring it back here."
"Plus, we're gonna have to do another bone marrow test," Kate said. "All that good stuff."
"What about X-rays?" Sabrina asked.
"We already covered those," Zelda said. "When Dr. Brackett put Jerry on chemotherapy, which he shouldn't have done in the first place."
"I tried to tell him that," Joe said. "But he wouldn't listen."
"I knew it," Mike said, shaking his head. "How long do you think Jerry will be in the hospital?"
"Hard to say," Kate said, pouring some kind of liquid into a flask.
"Three more months, tops," Zelda said. "We're dealing with something huge."
Lynn came into the lab just then, carrying a syringe. Mike made a face. He got queasy at the sight of blood.
"Here, Zelda," she said.
"Thanks," Zelda replied. "I have to see what exactly got into his blood."
"So you're sayin' this is some kind of blood disease," Mike said.
"The mosquito bit him," Kate said. "And sucked his blood. Whatever that mosquito was carryin', it got into his blood."
"If we can find a trace of anything," Zelda said. "We can use it to make an antitoxin, just in case an epidemic breaks out, or another mosquito from the Other Realm arrives."
"So it'll not only be an antitoxin, it'll also be a vaccine," Mike said.
"Right, and you two will have to be given shots," Kate said.
Both Mike and Sabrina groaned. They didn't like getting shots at all, and they knew a lot of other people who would rather get teeth pulled than get a shot. But then again, they didn't want to get sick, either, just in case another Other Realm mosquito happened to show up, and brought reinforcements.
At any rate, Mike and Sabrina were about to leave the hospital, when they ran into Quacky, literally. The three of them were knocked off their feet.
"What's the rush?" Mike asked.
"I'm glad I found you," Quacky said. "Paparazzi has struck Rampart General."
"Let me see that," Mike said, taking a tabloid from Quacky. "I thought you didn't read this trash."
"I don't," Quacky said. "I was at the supermarket, and I found that at the checkout stand. I had to show it to you."
Sabrina looked over Mike's shoulder to see the paper. There was a picture of Jerry back from January, when he was a complete wreck. The story inside the paper was pretty accurate, for a tabloid. Mike immediately went to a payphone and called to voice his opinions to the tabloid. But the tabloids weren't the only ones who had reported this story. The nightly news began running stories as well. Mike called the newsroom and gave them an update about Kate and Zelda's work in creating a vaccine or something.
Three weeks went by, and finally Kate and Zelda created a successful vaccine. The Rampart staff was the first to test it.
"You sure it'll work?" Carole asked.
"Not on Jerry, I'm sorry to say," Kate said. "But this should prevent everybody else from gettin' what he's got, in case of another mosquito, or a swarm of mosquitoes."
Zelda reproduced the vaccine magically, and then began to send it out to doctors offices all over the country. Many of them began driving around schools, in order to get the kids vaccinated as quickly as possible. Carson High was one of the first stops.
"Attention all students," the PA announcer said. "Classes for today, and possibly tomorrow are hereby cancelled."
"Yyyyesss!" Fluey shouted.
"All students are to report to the gym starting with the twelve graders with last names beginning with A. That is all."
"What's going on?" Shawn asked.
"Vaccinations," Sabrina, who was attending Carson while in California, explained. "So we all don't get what Jerry's got."
"In case of another mosquito?" Multi asked.
"You expecting a plague or something?" Fluey asked.
"No, but Aunt Zelda and Aunt Kate don't like taking precautions," Sabrina said.
"Oh," Fluey said. "Well . . . . ahhh . . . . They probably won't get to my group until tomorrow, so . . . ."
"Come on, you big chicken," Multi said. "It's just a shot!"
"I don't get you, Fluey," Shawn said, shaking her head. "You're sort of a Mr. Tough Guy type, and you're scared to get a little shot!"
"Needles tend to freak me out," Fluey said, shrugging.
"By the way," Linda said. "How is Jerry?"
"Getting there," Sabrina said. "There's been a lot of publicity around this mosquito business. Ever since the West Nile thing developed."
"I haven't heard about the West Nile case in awhile," Multi replied. "What are they calling what Jerry's got?"
"It's got a name already, but I can't remember what it is," Sabrina said. "Come on, we'd better get prepared for this shot."
Every so often, the PA system came on and called for seniors with last names B-D, E-H, so on and so on. It was very complicated. Another month had gone by. Mike began marking it on his calendar as well. It was now May. Jerry had been stuck in Rampart for four months. Hank was being driven absolutely insane.
"How are you affording this, Cap?" Carole asked.
"I insisted I pay for half the charge," Mike said. "And both our insurance companies cover this."
"More or less," Hank said. "I've been pulling double shifts whenever I can, and Linda got an after school job at the mall, and Christine's gotten a part-time job at a child day care center, so we're making ends meet."
"Good news," Joe said, coming down to the main desk.
"You made some headway," Mike said, hopefully.
"Not that good of news," Joe said. "But Kate did come up with a serum for Jerry. It won't kill the bug he's got entirely, but it should help."
"Okay, what exactly has to be done?"
"We have to inject it twice a day."
"I don't think Jer's gonna go for that."
"He will if he wants to get well," Hank replied.
There was no way around it. Joe, Mike, and Hank went up to 345. Jerry was sort of fiddling around with the TV in his room.
"Hi Jer," Mike said.
"Hey," Jerry said. Then he saw Joe. "Uh oh, a syringe. Gonna draw more blood, Doc?"
"No," Joe said. "Kate developed some medicine for you. It should help a little, but it won't cure you."
"I'll try anything by this point," Jerry said. "Fire when ready."
Joe took Jerry's arm and stuck the needle in. Jerry cringed.
"Ooohh," he groaned.
"Did that really hurt?" Mike asked.
"A little," Jerry admitted.
"It probably will hurt the first couple of times," Joe said. "But it should help you."
"I hope so," Jerry said.
Mike nodded. Joe left then. Hank sighed and began to massage his forehead. Nobody said that this was going to be easy. During wait, Mike spent more time at Screen Gems. Bob tried to get him interested in a movie, but he downright refused to do one. Phyllis was over at the radio station, filling in for Jerry, and trying to pick up some extra money, because of Mike paying half of Jerry's hospital bills. Carole began pitching in, as well. She told Dr. Brackett to take it out of half her paycheck. Other than that, things were the same as ever.
Both Mike and Reggie approached Rampart one day. They were planning on dropping in on Jerry, and then heading towards Sarah's who was planning a huge birthday bash for Reggie. The two of them went up to 345. When they walked in, they noticed something a little out of the ordinary. Apparently, a lot of Jerry's friends in the music business had heard about his illness and began to send flowers, get well cards, and the like.
"Sheesh," Reggie said, looking around. "Looks like my sinuses are gonna go crazy."
"No they won't," Jerry replied. "They're fake. They all know my sinuses go nuts, too."
"News leaks fast in California," Mike said. "So who's been sendin' stuff?"
"Well, from this morning . . . ." Jerry said, thinking it over for a moment. "Darlene Love, Aretha Franklin, Mary Wilson, and Martha Reeves. I also got cards from Dion, Frankie Avalon, and Jerry Butler."
"You know Frankie Avalon," Reggie said.
"Reg, he knows practically everybody in the music business," Mike said. "And you're just findin' this surprisin'?"
"Well," Reggie said, shrugging.
"So what are you guys up to?" Jerry asked.
"Well, we were just droppin' by to see how you were," Mike said. "We're headin' to Sarah's. She's throwin' a birthday party for Reggie three days early."
"Yeah, it's not the twelfth yet," Jerry said.
"I know," Reggie said. "My brother and his wife are flying in tomorrow, and they said they wanted to take me to Disneyland for my birthday."
"Well, have fun," Jerry said. "And happy birthday, Reg."
"Thanks," Reggie replied. "I'll meet you at the party, Mike."
"Okay," Mike said. Then he turned to Jerry. "So how are the injections goin'?"
"They still hurt," Jerry said. "I feel like a pin cushion. They're sticking the needle in my arm twice a day, and I still feel lousy."
"Aunt Zelda said to give you three more months. Actually, two more."
"So if I'm not out of here by July, what do you think's gonna happen?"
"Try not to think about that, Jerry."
Jerry nodded. Mike got up and left. Things were just driving him absolutely nuts. He didn't know what happened at the party Sarah was throwing. His mind wasn't on anything at the time, except Jerry. He had told Jerry not to think about what would happen if he wasn't out of there by July, but now Mike couldn't get the thought out of his head. He decided not to tell anyone at the time.
June rolled around. Mike was marking off the days on his calendar. So was Linda. School was out for the summer, so she could devote her spare time to her job at the mall. She was working at the music store, stocking CD's, and sometimes working at the checkout counter. She was pretty good at doing that. Mike walked in on her.
"Hey Linda," he said.
"Mike, hi!" Linda said, smiling. "So, what's new?"
"Not much, I'm afraid," Mike said.
"Same old, same old, huh?"
"Yeah. I'm sure you know about the injections."
"Yep, Dad told me all about them. I also heard his room sort of now looks like a florists."
"Well, word spread and all his show biz buddies have been sendin' stuff to that one room."
"Jerry's lucky he's got friends in high places."
"Yeah, I know."
Mike began to look through CDs then, trying to get his mind off Jerry. That was easier said than done, however. A few weeks went by. In just a couple of days, it would be July 3, Jerry's birthday, and as far as he knew, Jerry was still stuck in the hospital. Mike dropped in on Jerry, just as Lynn was through giving an injection. Jerry groaned as Lynn took the needle out.
"I know it hurts, Jerry, but you have to have these injections," Lynn said. Jerry didn't respond. He just closed his eyes and moaned.
"Is he all right?" Mike asked as Lynn was leaving. "He sounds awful."
"I think his temperature might have gone up a little," Lynn replied. "These injections are hurting him a lot more than they did when he was first taking them."
"Get in touch with Aunt Kate or Aunt Zelda."
Lynn left. Mike sighed and walked inside. He pulled up a chair and sat down.
"Hi Geat," he said. "Injections gettin' a little rough?"
"They hurt, Mike," Jerry said, somewhat pitifully. "They really, really hurt."
"So, got anything planned today, or are you just gonna sit here?"
"No, actually, I was gonna pop into the studio and do some solo recordings Bob had in mind, you know?"
"Yeah, I know."
"I nearly forgot. Bob had it planned for months, but we've never gotten around to it. I've got a lot on my mind these days."
"Please, stop worrying so much about me. I think I'll live."
"I hope so. But in all honesty, how bad are those injections gettin'? Sounded like you were in a lot of pain when Lynn was in here."
"It just really hurt. I've taken needles before, and I've given blood before, but it feels like they're giving me injections with a fifty foot needle."
"Sounds to me like these injections aren't workin' like they're supposed to."
"I don't think so, either. I'm feeling kind of wiped. I think I'll get some sleep."
"You do that. I'm not plannin' on doin' the recordings until later this afternoon, so I'll just hang around, if you don't mind."
"You'd be pretty bored. All I'm gonna do is sleep."
"That's okay, Jerry. I can write down who you need to send thank you notes to."
Jerry laughed sarcastically, and went to sleep. Mike heaved a sigh, and stood up. He went down to the front desk and found Dixie, Lynn, and Carole.
"I think you should call Aunt Kate," Mike said. "These injections are hurtin' him."
"It's the needle if you ask me," Lynn said.
"He said it felt like you were stickin' him with a fifty foot needle."
"Mike, I know you're worried," Dixie said. "But I don't think there's anything you should worry about."
"You sure?" Mike asked.
"Not positive," Dixie replied. "But it's all I've got to offer."
"Okay," Mike sighed. "I'm goin' back upstairs. I'll see you guys later."
The girls nodded, and Mike went back upstairs. Jerry was still asleep, completely zonked out. Mike sat down in his usual chair. He carefully looked over Jerry, and then put his hand on the Geator's forehead. He took it away quickly, and did a quick scan.
"Oh good lord," he said. He grabbed the nurse's call button and practically punched it.
"Dixie! Carole! Somebody get up here!"
"What's wrong, Mike?" Carole asked.
"It's Jerry. His temperature spiked!"
"Are you sure?"
"I did a quick scan. I'm positive. He's burnin' up!"
"Okay, I'll be there as fast as I can."
Mike had a feeling Jerry's temperature was probably back up to 106. He lifted him off the bed, and practically ran down the hall. He knew there was some sort of unit for just such an emergency, but he wasn't exactly sure where that was. Now wasn't the time to think it over. He just run into the lab and snapped his fingers. Some kind of washtub appeared, filled with cold water. Quickly, Mike submerged Jerry into it, hospital gown and all. By that time, Joe and Carole ran in.
"Mike?" Joe asked.
"I can explain," Mike said.
Joe didn't seem to want an explanation then. He kneeled down and took a thermometer out of his lab coat pocket. He stuck it into Jerry's mouth and waited for three minutes. He took it out and looked at it.
"A hundred and five," he said. "I'm guessing it went down a little when you submerged him. I can only imagine what it was before then."
"I don't understand what caused his temperature to go up like that," Carole said. "I'm going to call Kate."
Carole left. Mike snapped his fingers, and a sponge appeared in his hand. He dunked it into the washtub and began to run it across Jerry's forehead. Quickly, Kate appeared in the lab.
"I take it the injections weren't helpin' much," she said.
"If they were, Jerry's temperature wouldn't have gone up the way it did," Mike replied. Kate kneeled down and put her hand on Jerry's forehead.
"I see what you mean," she replied. "You'd better get him back to his room, Michael."
Mike lifted Jerry out of the washtub and carried him back to his room. A few moments later, Joe came in, with an IV tube.
"I think this is the only thing we can do," he said. "It's a long shot, but it's the only chance we've got right now."
"Okay," Mike said. "It couldn't possibly hurt."
Joe took the needle and stuck it into Jerry's arm. That seemed to wake him up, though.
"Ooowwwww!" he moaned.
"Hmm, I was wrong," Mike said. "It did hurt."
"Sorry, Jerry," Joe said.
"No more needles, please," Jerry said. "I can't take them."
"I think he's right, Joe," Mike said. "Where was Lynn givin' him that injection?"
"Same spot I was trying to stick the IV in," Joe said. "Wait here, I'll get Kate."
Joe left. Mike took a close look at Jerry's arm. There was a very bad looking bruise where the needles had been going in.
"I think after seein' this, Aunt Kate's gonna give you another form of medicine," he said.
"You think?" Jerry asked.
"Oh probably," Kate said. "Can't take the needles, can you?"
"They hurt," Jerry moaned, pitifully.
"Okay, let's see what you've got here," Kate said. Then she saw the bruise on his arm. "Okay, no more needles. I'll see if Zelda and I can develop somethin' you can swallow."
"You go back to sleep, Jerry," Joe said. "We'll figure something out. Mike, you'd better leave. We may have to do some more tests on Jerry."
"All right," Mike said. "I was goin' to the recordin' studio, anyway. I'll see you guys later."
Mike left. On his way out, he looked over his shoulder. Kate was taking the IV tube and getting some medicine out of it. Joe was taking another needle, and about ready to plunge it into Jerry's other arm, in order to take yet another blood test. He turned around, sighed, and then headed out. From Rampart, he walked over to the studio and put on a pair of headphones.
"Hi, Bob," he said. "Let's get this over with."
Mike began looking through the day's selections somewhat half heartedly.
"Hey, Mike," Bob said. "What's up?"
"Eh," Mike said, shrugging. "Jerry again."
"Yeah. His temperature spiked up to about a hundred and six, maybe higher. I don't know. I submerged him into cold water before I could check. The injections stopped workin', and now needles hurt him."
"Needles hurt everybody."
"You should see the bruise on Jerry's arm. Huge. And every time somebody sticks him with one, he screams."
"He hasn't been doing to well lately, has he?"
"That's the understatement of the year. Aunt Kate's workin' on it as we speak, and she may enlist Aunt Zelda to give her a hand. I don't know what's gonna happen. Jerry's been real depressed, too."
"You know, maybe we should do something to cheer him up."
"Yeah, but what?"
"Well . . . we could throw him a birthday party. You know it's in a couple of days."
"I don't think Dr. Brackett will go for it."
"He will if he knows what's good for him, Mike."
Mike stood up, and ran off. He had a lot of phone calls to make. Bob followed. The first call was to Rampart.
"I don't know, Mike," Dr. Brackett said. "That may be a little . . . . . difficult, you know?"
"Look, I can handle it," Mike replied. "And I can get the guys to help me."
"I'm just afraid this might wear him out. Jerry's doesn't seem to have that energy level anymore."
"A party will not wear him out if we keep it low key."
"All right, low key. But you're going to have to tell Sarah not to bake a cake for Jerry. He won't be able to eat it."
"Are you tellin' me you've still got him on a liquid diet?"
"Yes. He said he felt too weak to chew anything. He's in bad shape, Mike."
"Okay, no cake, no ice cream, no food. Anythin' else?"
"Like I said, keep it low key."
"Got it. Low key. No problem."
Mike hung up the phone and turned to Bob. The two of them went to the studio and gave the others the news.
"Spread the word," Mike said. "Doc Brackett gave us the okay."
"Great!" Sarah shouted, standing up. "I'll get started on the cake."
"Uhh, Sarah?" Mike said. "Brackett said no cake, or ice cream. Jerry's still on a liquid diet."
"Can't you just stick a cake in the blender and have him drink it?" Bob asked.
"No," Mike said. "We've got to keep this low key."
"What about decorations?" Quacky asked.
"I didn't think about that," Mike said. "But I don't think we can do that, either."
"Why not?" Peter asked.
"Well, how are we gonna get him out of the room?" Mike asked.
"Good point," Drake said. "Well, a low key party is better than no party at all. His records are still in his room, aren't they?"
"Yeah as well as the record player," Mike said.
"Okay, we've still got that," Drake said. "We'll just put on a couple of records and get him some gifts."
"One low key party comin' up," Mike said.
The group nodded. For the next couple of days, Mike made a couple of phone calls to plan one low key party. He did most of the planning at the studio.
"Why no cake?" Micky asked.
"Jerry can't eat it," Mike replied, writing something down. "They've still got him on that darn liquid diet."
"What if we put it in a blender?"
Mike glared at Micky, and then went back to work planning the party. July 3 came around. Mike walked into Jerry's room. He found Jerry laying there, throwing darts at a dart board that was hanging on the wall.
"Where'd you get that?" Mike asked.
"Levi Stubs," Jerry replied. "You know. He sang lead for the Four Tops."
"I got it this morning. It's sort of a birthday present."
"Oh, that's today, isn't it?"
"Don't tell me you've been too worried about me to even remember my own birthday!"
"Jerry, come on. Would I forget your birthday?"
"The way you've been lately? Yes."
"Well, yeah, I sorta did. I didn't remember until today, and I had to do a rush job on your present."
"What is it? Some more medicine?"
"Nah. What I got you was this. Come on in, guys."
Davy ran into the room and held up a noisemaker. Then he blew it right into Mike's ear.
"Don't do that," Mike said. "I thought I told you this party was supposed to be low key."
"Sorry," Davy said. "I couldn't 'elp meself."
Jerry started laughing. He knew only Mike would come up with throwing a surprise party in a hospital.
"Mike, you are too much," he said.
"Well so much for the surprise party," Mike replied, shrugging. "Happy birthday, Jerry."
"Yeah mate," Davy said, blowing his noisemaker in Mike's ear again. Mike sighed, snapped his fingers, and tied the noisemaker in a knot.
"Thank you, Davy," Mike said. "Okay, guys, come on in."
Most of the rest of the group came into the room then. Jerry just laughed and shook his head.
"You guys are just too much," he said. "There's just one thing I want to know."
"Yeah, what?" Mike asked.
"Didn't anybody make a birthday cake or something like that?"
"I thought you were on a liquid diet."
"Well, yeah, but you could've put it in a blender or something."
Mike groaned and slapped his hand to his forehead. He felt like banging his head against the wall. Everybody else began to laugh.
"I told you," Micky said.
"Shut up, Mick," Mike said. "Geez."
The low key party was underway. After about an hour, everybody was forced to clear out. Dr. Brackett came into the room, wanting to do some more tests.
"You're treating him like a guinea pig," Sarah replied.
"We have to do these tests constantly," Dr. Brackett explained.
"Whatever you say, doc," Sarah said. "But with all the needles you're driving into him, you should market yourself as an acupuncturist."
"Uhh, let's hit the road, Sarah," Reggie said. "See ya later, Jer."
"Yeah, happy b-day, Jer," Sarah said, and she and Reggie departed.
"I'd better get going, too," Phyllis said. "Gotta do the radio gig. Unless you want to do it, Mike."
"Nah, I think I'll hang here for a bit," Mike replied.
"Okay," Phyllis said. "Jerry, don't worry about your show, it's in good hands. But I can't want until you get back to work, and neither can your audience."
"Do you know what you're doing?" Jerry asked.
"Sure I do," Phyllis said. "I just can't go as fast as you."
Jerry laughed and Phyllis left. The others left as well. Mike walked outside, and waited for Dr. Brackett to come out and tell him when he could go back in. Dr. Brackett closed the door once everyone was out. Mike carefully opened the door and watched. He wanted to know exactly what Dr. Brackett was going to do.
"You're not gonna stick me again, are you?" Jerry asked.
"No," Dr. Brackett replied. "I just need to do some regulation checks. Blood pressure, temperature, that sort of thing."
Dr. Brackett pulled out his thermometer and stuck it in Jerry's mouth. After that, he took out the blood pressure cuff and fastened it around Jerry's arm. After awhile, he took the thermometer out of Jerry's mouth.
"Gone up slightly," he said. "Jerry, do you realize you've been in here for six months, and you're still not showing any signs of improvement?"
"I realize that," Jerry said. "This must be killing Captain Stanley. Financially speaking."
"Well, his insurance and Mike's insurance are doing their part, but that's not what I'm getting at."
"I don't think I really wanna know what you're getting at, doc. Because in the back of my mind, I think I already know what you're getting at."
"Well . . . ."
"Because I had a dream awhile back. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, and Dean Martin were in here, and they told me my next gig would be at the Pearly Gates if I didn't shape up. I want to know if you're getting at something similar."
"Do you really want to know?"
"I'm not gonna pull through, am I?"
"We don't know that for sure, Jerry."
"But it's a possibility, isn't it? I mean, you've used every possible medicine known to man on me. I've swallowed pills, syrups, taken injections, gone under radiation . . . . . I might as well just call it quits right now!"
"Jerry, I'm not saying you're going to die. You're going to get well if it kills me."
"How can you be sure?"
"That's the problem. I can't. But I just don't know what else to tell you."
Jerry sighed. He couldn't take it much longer. Dr. Brackett finally left the room. He saw Mike standing there leaning against the wall.
"What are you still doing here?" he asked.
"Eavesdroppin'," Mike replied. "I heard everythin' and I want to know the truth. Is he gonna live or not?"
"Mike, I don't know. This is a very trying case. Whenever it looks like he's improving, something happens, and he gets worse, then he starts getting better again, and then he starts getting worse again."
"Dr. Brackett, you're not tellin' me the entire truth. I want to know what you think or what you know, or whatever, and I want to know right now!"
"Step into my office."
Mike and Dr. Brackett went to the elevator, and then walked into Dr. Brackett's office. Dr. Brackett sat down behind his desk. Mike just staid where he was, folding his arms across his chest.
"Well?" he asked.
"You really want to know?" Dr. Brackett asked.
"Yes I really wanna know!"
"All right. Like I said, every time Jerry shows the slightest sign of improvement, something happens, and he gets worse. His fever is going up again, and I just don't know how to bring it down. Aspirin isn't working, and those injections your aunts came up with haven't been working since last month. Mike, I honestly think he's not going to make it past August."
"So you're sayin' by September, he's gonna . . . ."
"It's just an opinion. I'm not saying that it's a sure thing, but that's just what I think."
"Okay. Are you gonna tell that to Jerry?"
"I might, I might not. It all depends."
"Okay. All right. Thanks, doc."
Dr. Brackett nodded, and Mike left. He picked up the nearest phone and dialed around to tell them what he knew. No one could believe it, and Linda didn't want to believe it.
"Is Dr. Brackett so sure about that?" she asked.
"He isn't," Mike said. "That's just what he thinks. Personally, I'll give Jerry until October."
"I can't believe you, Mike! Jerry's own best friend thinking that he's gonna die! Well I have news for you. Jerry's gonna make it. I just know he is!"
With that, Linda slammed the phone down and stormed off. Hank watched her go, and then turned to Christine.
"What's the matter with her?" he asked.
"Same thing that's the matter with Mike," Christine said. "Jerry again. Dr. Brackett's giving him until August, and Mike's giving him until October."
"They're giving up so soon? Let me tell you something, Chris. What they need is a heavy drug for that boy."
With that, Hank left his house and got into his car. He drove around until he approached the Nesmiths' house, and practically banged on the door.
"Cap?" Warren asked when he answered. "What are you doin' here?"
"Your sister-in-law here?" Hank asked. "I need to talk to her."
"Well . . . . she was here. She may have gone to Massachusetts through the basement door."
"Yeah, that's Mike's porthole to the Other Realm, and then he'll find another door to Boston, Rio, Paris, you name it."
"Must save a bundle on plane tickets."
"It does, but a lot of good it does us mortals. At any rate, I'll see if I can find Kate. Come on in."
Hank walked into the house, and Warren walked off. Mike came down the stairs after a few minutes and just stared.
"What are you doin' here?" he asked.
"I came to talk to your aunt," Hank said. "Your dad went to go find her."
"Oh, she's in the basement. Aunt Zelda came over and the two of them are workin' on a drug or somethin'."
"That's exactly what I wanted to talk to your aunt about. I also wanted to know if they knew for sure what was going to happen to Jerry. I heard you were giving him until October. Linda's a bit upset with you on that subject, by the way."
"If he doesn't come out of this, then I am. Believe me, Cap, I don't want Jerry to die. If he does, I know Linda will be destroyed, and frankly, so will I. I will be so out of it, it won't even be funny. How's Linda been handlin' this anyway?"
"Well, she doesn't worry like you do. She's in denial. She's optimistic, saying Jerry's going to get better. She can't afford to worry, anyway, considering the monthly hospital bills. Chris is working, Linda's working, I'm pulling double shifts, your insurance is paying, my insurance is paying, you're paying . . . . . I gotta tell you, Mike, something's gotta give and it's gotta give soon."
"Funny you should mention that," Kate said, as she, Warren, and Zelda came into the room. "I think we made another scientific breakthrough."
"Will it work this time?" Mike asked.
"The other medicine would have worked," Zelda said. "If Jerry hadn't been so sick at the time we were giving it to him."
"Why don't you try giving him that vaccine you came up with?" Hank asked.
"They did," Warren said. "Carole gave it to him the day they made it, but it didn't work."
"At any rate," Kate said. "Zelda and I got some ingredients from the Other Realm, ground them up, and came up with this concoction."
"Don't tell me you have to inject it," Mike said.
"Unfortunately, we do," Zelda said. "And you told us needles were beginning to hurt him, but you have to give him this medicine twice a day in the arm no matter what."
"Isn't there a way you can do it without hurting him?" Hank asked.
"We could always numb his arm," Mike shrugged.
That was an idea. The next day, Kate brought the medicine to Rampart and explained everything to them. They weren't exactly keen on the idea of more injections.
"Michael suggested we numb his arm," Kate said.
"Who knows how long that would take?" Dixie said. "And we can't afford not to give him the medicine."
"You're gonna have to give it to him," Kate said, shrugging. "No matter how much it hurts."
"And if we don't give it to him?" Dr. Brackett asked.
Kate didn't answer, but she didn't need to. Her silence said it all. Joe didn't hesitate. He took the medicine from Kate, and filled a syringe with it. Then he walked up to Jerry's room. Jerry saw the needle and moaned.
"Oh no," he said. "Not another needle."
"I'm sorry, Jerry, but it's the only way to give you your medicine," Joe said. "I know it's going to hurt, but I have to give it to you. You want to get better, don't you?"
"I guess," Jerry said. "But do you hafta use a needle?"
Jerry sighed and let Joe inject the medicine. He groaned as the needle went in, and came out, but there was nothing he could do about it. Kate walked into the room just then, in order to get a good look at his arm.
"Let me see where that needle's been goin' in," she said, looking at his arm. "Hmm. The bruise isn't as big as Michael said it was."
"It's cleared up since I haven't been getting jabbed with needles," Jerry replied. "Now I have a feeling it's gonna come back."
"Well, I wouldn't worry. This is a new medicine. You'll be fine. Trust me."
Jerry nodded. He wanted to trust her, but he wasn't so sure he was going to be fine. It went on like that for about three more months. It was now October. The injections were helping, but only a little. Mike spent more time at Rampart than anywhere else. Jerry quickly learned that Mike didn't think he'd last until October, and he was sore at him.
"Some friend you are," he said.
"I said I was sorry," Mike said. "Come on, man, I didn't think you'd make it this far."
"Really. So now what do you think? Christmas Eve, I'm gonna keel over and die, right?!"
"No! My aunts made you that medicine, and it seems to be workin'."
"Then how come I'm still here?!"
"Because you still have a potentially high fever, that's way!"
"I'm never getting out of here. I just know it."
"Okay, so the medicine's workin' as slow as molasses, but at least it's workin'! You're actin' as if you don't want to get better."
"I do want to get better, Mike! It's just that it's taking so long."
"Sometimes, Jerry, you are just impossible!"
Mike stood up and stormed out. Jerry glared at him, and threw a dart at his dart board. He knew Mike was stressed, and yelling at him wouldn't help matters. He had to apologize for taking his frustrations out on him. But Jerry just couldn't wait until he came back, if he came back. He sighed, threw the blanket off him, and prepared to stand up. He had to grab onto the side of the bed for support. He felt like his legs were made out of Jell-O. He inched his way towards the door, using both the bed, chair, and door jamb to lean up. The minute he took one step without holding onto something, he collapsed. On his way down, he hit a metal cart, which sent it flying towards the wall. CRASH! That seemed to bring every doctor and nurse in that hallway over. Thankfully, the nurse to reach Jerry first was Dixie.
"We told you your legs would never hold you up," she said.
"I had to talk to Mike," was all Jerry said. Luckily, Mike had heard the crash as well and came back.
"Hey, are you all right?" he asked. Jerry nodded.
"Uh huh," he said. "I didn't realize I was still too weak to walk. But I had to find you, Mike, and apologize. I'm just frustrated."
"I know, so is everybody else," Mike said. "It's been over nine months, and you're still not makin' any progress."
"Well, I'm feeling pretty okay, actually," Jerry said. "As a matter of fact, it felt kind of good to get up, even if I landed flat on my face."
"Restless?" Dixie asked.
"Yes!" Jerry shouted.
"That's a good sign," Dixie said. "Most bedridden patients get restless when they're feeling better."
Mike and Dixie helped Jerry back into his room and into bed. Once he was settled, Mike and Dixie left, and then looked at each other.
"You think there's a chance?" Mike asked.
"A good one, Mike," Dixie smiled. "Just keep your hopes up and cross your fingers."
Mike crossed his fingers and walked off. He got in touch with Linda to tell her the news, and then both of them spread the word. Linda spread it around school.
"Great," Fluey replied. "Now that softball season's over, he goes and recovers."
"Face it, we'll never have all the energy Jerry has," Multi said. He and Fluey had spent the entire summer with Coiley and Sebastian coaching Jerry's team, and by the time school started, the four of them were ready to drop dead.
"Well now we know how Jerry relates to these kids," Erin said.
"High energy levels," Laurie said. "Look at you two. You're a train wreck!"
"I'm just glad he doesn't coach a football team," Multi said.
"Yeah, man!" Fluey shouted.
The others just laughed. After school, Linda went directly to Rampart. She wanted to see how Jerry was doing. She went up to room 345 and found Jerry, Reggie, and Mike throwing darts at the dart board. They had posted a picture of Chief LaRoc on it and were having a field day. Paul Dunbar had loaned them the picture, and told them to have a field day. Reggie aimed carefully and tossed.
"Yyyeesss!" Reggie shouted. "Direct hit, right between the eyes!"
"From what Cap and Paul told us," Mike said. "This guy deserves it. Your turn Jer."
Jerry took the dart and then aimed. Linda shook her head.
"You guys are nuts," she said.
"Huh?" Jerry asked, somewhat startled, and threw the dart directly at Linda. Luckily it missed and hit the wall, although it did pin some of her hair to the wall.
"Oh jeez!" Jerry shouted. "Linda! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"
"You're not hurt, are you?" Mike asked as he and Reggie ran over.
"No, my hair's stuck," Linda said.
"Okay, hold still, honey, I'll unhook you," Mike said, and then he yanked the dart out of the wall. "There you go."
"Thanks," Linda said. "You gotta work on your aim, Jerry."
"Yeah I know," Jerry said. "Jeez, Linda, you startled me there."
"Sorry," Linda said. "So what are you guys doing?"
"Throwing darts at your dad's boss," Reggie said.
"Oh yeah," Linda said. "Chief LaRoc. Daddy says he's got rocks in his head."
"LaRoc better not hear him say that," Mike said. Then he handed a dart to Linda. "Here, throw it."
Linda threw the dart, but her aim was more off than Jerry's. It ended up in the hallway, and hit the wall. Of course, Dr. Brackett yanked it out of the wall, and returned it into the room.
"I know the Four Tops are friends of yours, Jerry," he said, giving the dart to Mike. "But please get in touch with Levi Stubs and tell him not to send you anymore games involving throwing projectiles."
"That was my throw, Dr. Brackett," Linda said.
"See what I mean?" Dr. Brackett asked.
"I hope you've got some news, doc," Jerry said. "I've been going crazy from boredom lying here in this bed!"
"You're ready to leave, aren't you?"
"Well, you can't leave just yet. Your fever's stuck at a hundred and two, but we're doing what we can. If we can get it down to a hundred and one, then I think we'll be able to send you home."
"Great. Listen, doc, I gotta get up and stretch. I can't seem to keep still."
"Oh yeah. You're getting better all right. Well, let's see here. Get up and walk around a little."
Jerry shrugged and got out of bed. He was holding onto the sides of the bed. He let go and took a step, and nearly landed flat on his face again, but this time Mike and Linda caught him before he could crash to the ground.
"Oops!" Linda shouted.
"Easy there," Mike said at the exact same time.
"You'd better get some life into those legs, Jer," Reggie said. "Or else you'll be riding a wheelchair to work!"
"Let me talk to Dixie," Dr. Brackett said. "She may have an idea about this."
A week went by since then. Jerry was doing a lot better, with the exception of his legs. They still felt like they were made out of gelatin, but Dixie solved the problem of Jerry's restlessness. She had brought in a walker for him whenever he wanted to get up and stretch.
"This is only temporary," Jerry explained to Mike. "That's the good news."
"I take it there's bad news," Mike said.
"Yeah, good news is always followed by bad news. The bad news is Dr. Brackett said I may have to wear leg braces for awhile after I get out of here. I've been sick for so long, my legs won't be able to take the weight."
"But I won't have to wear them forever, that's what Dr. Brackett said. I may end up wearing them for up to maybe a year or so, longer if my legs are still doing what they're doing now."
"Just the idea of you in leg braces . . . . . I don't know. What'll that do to your reputation?"
"Well, I don't know. Leg braces or not, Mike, I just want to get out of here."
"Well, you're lookin' so much better, I can tell you that much."
Jerry smiled. He was showing a vast improvement. Joe had taken him off the liquid diet, and he was now on solid food, which Mike considered to be a relief, because now Jerry wasn't so skinny anymore. His hair was still a little short in the front, but Mike thought it looked fine. He had gotten used to Jerry with dark red hair instead of dark brown hair, but he wondered if he was going to dye it back to it's original color.
"You gonna leave it red, or you gonna dye it brown?" he asked.
"I think I'll leave it for awhile," Jerry said. "I may end up dying it brown though, you just never know."
"Well, other than your hair, I am so glad you've gained some weight. You were nothin' but skin and bones for awhile there."
"Well, my appetite's back. I've been hungry enough to even eat hospital food!"
Mike laughed. December rolled around. Jerry was still at a hundred and two, but it was slowly going down. Nobody dared take him off his medicine. They weren't taking any chances. One day, Hank and Linda were hanging around the front desk.
"So what are the chances of Jerry coming home for Christmas?" Hank asked.
"Slim," Carole said. "He's doing much better, but we can't seem to shake the hundred and two fever."
"Well, keep working at it," Linda said. "We'll come visit him on Christmas."
Carole nodded, and went back to work. On Christmas Eve, Mike, Linda, Christine, and Hank were at the mall, doing some last minute shopping.
"It's going to take some getting used to," Hank said. "Seeing him going around with that walker is making me nervous though."
"That's just so he can stretch," Mike explained, pulling a book off a shelf. He began leafing through it. "He told me they were gonna give him leg braces when he's released."
"Leg braces," Hank said, nodding. "There's a fine how do you do. My son-in-law. The disabled."
"Daddy!" Linda shouted.
"I was just kidding," Hank said.
"Well, it wasn't funny, Hank," Christine said.
"Sorry," Hank said. "I didn't mean it. Really."
"So you guys gonna go over there tomorrow?" Mike asked, to change the subject.
"Yeah, we're gonna go give him his Christmas presents," Linda said. "Wanna come along?"
"Yeah, sure," Mike said. "Hey, how much you guys wanna bet his famous friends have already sent him stuff?"
The Stanleys laughed and then finished up their shopping. Mike did the same. The next morning around ten o' clock, Mike met the Stanleys arrived at Rampart General Hospital, and went directly up to room 345. Imagine their complete shock when they found it completely empty.
"Where is he?" Christine asked.
"You don't think anything happened, do you?" Linda asked.
"Dad was in here earlier with Carole, and he told me that Jerry was fine this mornin'," Mike said.
"Let's not panic," Hank said. Then he saw Dixie. "Dix! Dixie!"
"Oh, good, you're here," Dixie said. "We've been waiting for you to show up. Follow me."
Mike began to get a lump in his throat. He was worried something serious had happened. He had no idea where Dixie was leading him, or the Stanleys. They were just about as nervous as he was. Dixie led them into a room and then smiled. Inside was a bunch of kids all gathered around Joe, who was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. Lynn was also wearing a Santa hat and passing out toys to the kids. Jerry was standing there, helping her.
"Joe's playing Santa for the kids," Dixie said. "Jerry volunteered to help Lynn with elf duties."
"Hi guys," Jerry said.
"Oh god, Jerry, you had us scared to death!" Mike yelled. Then he noticed something. "Hey, you're standin' up without your walker."
"Yeah, I know," Jerry said. Then he walked over to a chair and sat down. "Lynn and Dr. Early put on the leg braces yesterday. They're gonna take some getting used to, but they'll be better than using a wheelchair or crutches."
"Joe, you and Lynn put on the braces this early?" Mike asked.
"I thought they weren't supposed to go on until just before he was released," Linda said.
Linda realized what she had just said, and then turned to Joe.
"Tell me I'm not imagining this," she said.
"You're not," Joe replied. "Jerry's temperature went down to a ninety-nine point eight late last night."
"We figured we'd put the leg braces on now," Lynn said. "Since there would be absolutely no sitting this guy still."
"So he can go home tomorrow?" Linda asked, hopefully.
"Not tomorrow," Lynn said. "Kel, Joe, and I want to keep him here for a few more days for observation, but I can guarantee that he'll be able to go home by January."
Mike jumped up. He felt like singing. He got so excited, he raised his hands into the air, and a blast of magic shot out of his finger tips, lighting up the Christmas tree in the room with a spectacular display of colored lights. All the kids thought it was impressive.
"Mike, sometimes I don't think you know your own powers," Lynn said.
Mike smiled sheepishly. He had to spread the word to the others. January rolled around. Jerry was finally getting released. Hank went to Rampart to pick him up.
"Man, this has been one crazy year, hasn't it?" Jerry asked, as Carole and Dr. Brackett wheeled him out of the hospital in a wheelchair (they weren't taking any precautions).
"Well, the important thing is you're all right now," Hank replied.
"There are just a few more things you need to do, Jerry," Dr. Brackett said. "Go easy on running and dancing. It's good for your legs, but it might be a little rough on the braces."
"Yeah, these things are expensive, I'll bet," Jerry said.
"Also, your energy may not all come back at once," Dr. Brackett continued. "You may feel tired for awhile, which is another reason you should keep the dancing to a minimum."
"It could be awhile before you're back to your usual routine," Carole explained.
"I get it," Jerry said.
"Also come back in a month and we'll see how you're doing," Dr. Brackett said. "And if you need any adjustments to the braces, we'll do that."
"Okay," Jerry said. "Anything else I need to know about the braces?"
"Nope," Carole said. "If you want to go swimming, go ahead. Water can't hurt the braces. But if they should break while you're swimming . . . ."
"I know, come in and get them adjusted, right?" Jerry said.
"Right," Carole laughed. "Well, that's about it."
"I guess so," Dr. Brackett replied. "We'll see you later, Jerry."
Jerry stood up and climbed into Hank's car. Hank climbed in as well and drove off. It was a pretty quiet drive, however.
"I was kind of hoping Linda would come with you," Jerry said after awhile.
"She wanted to drop by Screen Gems and give the word," Hank said. "Why don't we go over there? I think she's still there, unless Mike gave her a ride home."
"Sure. I've been in the hospital so long, I kind of forgot what the interior of the studio looks like."
Hank laughed, and the two of them went to Screen Gems. They got out of the car and walked inside. The place was pitch black.
"What happened to the lights?" Jerry asked.
As if that were a cue, the lights came on suddenly, nearly scaring Jerry right out of his mind.
"Surprise!" Micky shouted, directly into his ear.
"Geez, Micky, I'm not deaf, you know!" Jerry shouted. "But I might as well be."
"Welcome back, Jerry," Mike said. "You have no idea how long I've had this planned."
"Let me guess," Jerry said. "Since February, right?"
"Last January to be exact," Sabrina said. "In the back of his mind, he knew you would be all right."
"I've said it a million times, but it seems fitting," Jerry said. "Mike, you are just too much!"
Mike laughed. It was a major celebration, that was for sure. Finally, things could start getting back to normal.