PRINCE ALI – WONDER HORSE BOOK ONE, SECOND EDITION
By: Victoria Hardesty and Nancy Perez
Writers of Action and Adventured with Arabian Horses
Walter hung up the phone and joined Caroline in Becky’s room. As he entered, he was shocked all over again at how small and pale Becky looked. He also knew Caroline was an emotional mess. She was desperately worried about her only child. But he also knew how much she loved Ali. She thought of him more like a son than a horse. He didn’t know how Caroline was holding up as well as she was, with one child in a coma and the other missing entirely.
Both Walter and Caroline were anxious about Becky waking up and finding Ali gone. Becky would be wild to find him. Walter was a little ashamed of himself when he thought it might be for the best that Becky was “asleep” right now. He hoped that would give them time to find Ali and get him back home where he belonged before she woke up.
“Do you think someone would take Ali for money like that?” Caroline asked after a while.
“Well, that’s one theory,” Walter said pensively. “If that’s what happened, I have more hope of getting him back safely, in one piece. We can afford to pay. That seems to be the theory the Sheriff’s Department is working on. They are operating strictly on his dollar value. I know we don’t think of him that way, but to most people, he’s just an animal worth a lot of money.”
“I know, I know,” Caroline said plaintively. “But it’s like one of my kids was kidnapped. I don’t know where he is, I don’t know how he is, and I don’t know if they’re taking care of him. It just makes me sick. And they hurt our daughter to get to him. What I wouldn’t give to be left in a room all alone with them right now, whoever they are. I’d take them apart with my bare hands.”
“I feel the same way you do, Mama Bear,” Walter told her. “Let’s hope they call soon. I want them caught – the sooner, the better. I don’t want to have to tell Becky he’s missing.”
Joanne stopped in to check on Becky and typed notes in the chart. “We did get an order from Dr. Spencer to move in a folding cot, so at least one of you can stay through the night with her. It should be here in a minute.”
“Thank you so much, Joanne.”
Walter, who preferred action to inaction, was antsy and restless. Finally, he could stand it no longer. “I’m going outside to take a walk. I just need to get moving right now,” he told his wife.
Caroline understood. Walter was never one to sit around waiting for something to happen. That was why he was so successful in business. He MADE things happen.
“You go ahead, Papa Bear. I’ll take the second shift going home. I don’t want her to wake up alone.” Caroline said.
“Think I’m going to bring my running clothes back with me when I go home to shower and change. I need to check on the home front anyway. I can always change here in the bathroom. Running helps me relax. I can’t stand just sitting around worrying.” Walter told her.
“You do whatever you need to. I’ll be right here because that’s what I need to do.” Caroline responded. “If she wakes up while you’re out, I’ll send up a flare. Be on the watch for it.” she smiled at him.
“I love you both, you know,” he said quietly. “I don’t know what I’ll do if anything happens to either of you.”
Caroline replied quietly, “I know. I know.”
Walter left the hospital and took a long walk in the dark. The action felt good. He’d been sitting too long. He breathed deeply of the damp, salty air. He looked up at the stars and sent his own prayer to the heavens. As he moved, he felt the tension leaving his body, and he became more aware of the chill in the air. He’d have to remember to bring a windbreaker with his running clothes tomorrow. He should include one for Caroline too. He knew she’d forget it. He was very worried about Becky, but somehow, he knew she would be all right in the deep recesses of his mind. She’d wake up, and they would find no damage to her brain. She’d be the same bright, happy child she’d always been. The only question was how long it would take? And could they find Ali before then?
What he didn’t know was that Ali stood in a make-shift corral on a mountain top, not so far away, looking at the same stars and wishing he was home too.
Walter passed the hospital gift shop on his way back to the ICU. He spotted a small white teddy bear in the window that had Becky’s name written all over it. The shop was about to close, but he got inside quickly and bought the bear. When he walked into Becky’s room, the cot was alongside the wall under the window, made up and ready with a pillow and blankets. He stopped by Becky’s bed and tucked the little bear in the crook of her arm so it would be the first thing she saw when she woke up.
“Any change?” he asked Caroline, who looked up from a paperback book and shook her head.
“No, it looks like she’s sleeping peacefully,” Caroline said. “Why don’t you try to get some sleep first? I’ll wake you up if anything happens, but for sure, I’ll wake you up about 2:00 AM so you can take a turn. That okay with you?”
“Yeah, that sounds fine,” Walter said as he stretched out on the cot. He tried as best he could to sleep, but his mind kept spinning with the events of the day. He did close his eyes and got some rest but never fell completely asleep before Caroline shook him at midnight.
“She’s trembling,” Caroline said. “Take a look. I don’t know if I should call the nurse,” she said.
Walter jumped off the cot and stood beside Becky’s hospital bed, staring down at his daughter. All of a sudden, Becky began to shake. She scrunched up her face and tried to move her arms but didn’t have the strength. Caroline felt her feet under the blanket.
“She’s cold. Her feet are cold.” Caroline reached under the blanket and touched Becky’s upper thigh. “Walter, she’s freezing. Please hit the nurse call button. Something’s not right here.”
Joanne flew into the room, “Is there a problem?” she asked.
“Please look at Becky,” Caroline said. “She’s trembling. I put my hand under the covers, and her feet are freezing. She’s cold. Is that normal?”
Joanne lifted the blanket and felt Becky’s feet. “No, this is unusual. I’ll get blankets,” she said as she dashed out the door. She returned quickly with a stack of warmed blankets, and Caroline helped her put them over Becky’s trembling body. Becky stopped shaking in a few minutes.
Joanne and Caroline changed the blankets to freshly warmed ones until the hospital shift changed at midnight. Susan took over for Joanne then and teamed up with Caroline to keep warm blankets on Becky throughout the night.
Becky stopped shivering at dawn. Caroline was exhausted. Susan monitored Becky’s vital signs since her shift began. There was nothing in them that suggested a problem. Becky never opened her eyes or moved throughout the night. Caroline finally laid down on the cot a few minutes before 6:00 AM. Walter grabbed his book and sat down in the chair beside Becky to read. It was hard for him to focus. When he realized he’d just read the same paragraph three times, he closed the book. He reached through the bed rail and held Becky’s hand, leaning his other arm on the top of the bed rail. Within a few minutes, his head rested on his forearm as he sat there; he too drifted off.
Becky lay in the hospital bed, silent and motionless. She was in a deep fog but heard her parents’ voices far, far away. She heard another male voice and another woman’s voice off in the distance but try as she might, she could not understand a word they were saying. She wanted to get up and find her Mommy and her Daddy, but she could not make her body move no matter how hard she tried. After a while, she gave up and slipped back into the fog and heard nothing for a long time.
Walter woke with a start when Susan, Becky’s night nurse, came into the room at 8:00 AM. She was holding two trays. “I took a chance that you and your wife would still be here at breakfast time,” she told him, “So I ordered you both a breakfast.”
Walter looked over at Caroline. She was just opening her eyes. “Any change?” she asked.
“No, nothing,” Walter said as he took the tray from Susan. She walked the other tray to the cot and handed it to Caroline, who’d just sat up and stretched.
“Thank you so much,” Walter said to Susan. “It was kind of you to think of us.”
Susan checked on Becky and typed notes in her chart. She said, “There’s coffee at the nurses’ station. She invited them to “Help yourself. Cups are next to the machine with the creamer and sugar.” as she left the room.
“You want some coffee?” he asked Caroline.
“Yes. I’m dying for a cup of coffee,” she answered. He brought two cups back to the room.
Walter said, “I think I’ll take off in a few minutes and go home to shower and change. I want to check on things at home. I’ll make the phone calls to our families and bring them up to date. I can be back here in two hours so you can take the car and do the same,” he said, “unless, of course, there are any changes here. I can be back here in ten minutes if you need me.”
“We need to make arrangements to get the truck and trailer home too.” She suggested.
“Thanks for reminding me. I’ll talk to Fernando about that. Maybe he and his brother can handle that for us. We don’t need more than one car here if we are taking shifts. Give me the keys to the truck, and I’ll take them to him.”
Caroline dug around in her purse for the keys and handed them to Walter. He kissed her on the cheek and left the hospital.