Tommy Has Some Trouble: The Conclusion

Tommy Has Some Trouble: The Conclusion
Bodie was crossing the Harbor Bridge in Corpus when Dale rang his cell phone.

"Wish I had something good to tell you, but nothing new came of my meeting with Vince," Bodie told him.

"Well," Dale informed, "I thought you'd like to know, an FBI agent came by and said they are fair certain Raymond Woodford left the country last night under a forged passport. Looks like you can rest easy and get Tommy home. Hopefully the Feds will be able to deal with him."

"Where did he go?" Bodie asked.

"He was vague on that, Bodie. Seems like that part of it is classified. But at least it's good to know he's far away and that they're on his trail. Probably means other agencies are tracking him, too, which is good."

Bodie hit the call end button and settled in for the drive home but Woodford haunted his thoughts. His mind turned eventually to Tommy and other matters at hand.

With Woodford out of the picture, at least for a while, he could concentrate on getting Tommy home. And, if Vince could follow through as he indicated and stay with him a while, things could get back to normal. He hoped.

A call to the hospital brought Dr. Hanson on the line.

"Hi Doc! Thanks for taking my call," Bodie greeted. "Last time I was at the hospital the staff nurses said Tommy might be released tomorrow. I thought I'd get it straight from you, whether I might be able to take him home in the morning."

"Actually, Mr. Allen, I was planning to call you. Mr. Meyers is scheduled to be released day after tomorrow, but I see no reason he could not leave in the morning. We are very pleased with the progress he has made."

"Sounds great, Doc. I can be there around 9:00, if that's OK with you, and the staff."

"That will be fine. I will notify the staff and I'll let Mr. Meyers know you're coming when I make my rounds," the doctor said.

Bodie called Monroe to make sure a new air conditioner had been installed at his house, and then headed to the post office and home. Bodie's situational awareness was in high gear as he pulled into the yard. Circling the place, and everything appearing to be in order he parked, and headed inside.

He grabbed a beer from the refrigerator, put his leftover Mexican food in the microwave, and then sat at the kitchen table to look through the mail.

"More junk than bills," he muttered. "But better than the other way around."

Rising and scooping the junk mail, he noticed a scrap of paper on the table with a note scrawled on it.

"Had some business come up more important than you cowboy. But I'll be seeing you one of these days. Oh, nice locks. They work really well. -RW"

Bodie hated bothering Dale so late in the evening but knew he had to call him.

"I never touched the paper," Bodie told the detective. "Used a pencil to slide it into a clean envelope and sealed it."

"Good thinking," Dale replied. "I will make a copy for the FBI and place it in the evidence file. And if I were you," he continued. "I'd find some better locks."

"I'm not so sure locks are the answer, dealing with a guy like Woodford. I'm thinking maybe a couple of hungry Dobermans," Bodie said, laughingly.

"It's really not funny at all, Bodie. He might be out of the picture for now but you have to take this guy seriously," Dale said with concern.

"I know I do, Dale; but I'm not going to walk around looking over my shoulder every few seconds or checking under my bed every night. Anyway, I will be stopping by Tommy's house in the morning to pick up some of his clothes and then heading to the hospital to bring him home. It's late, so I'll let you go."

When the elevator door opened, the hubbub from Tommy's room told him his friend was saying his goodbyes. Nurses and aides were giving him hugs and helping gather his things.

"Bodie," Tommy yelled. "I'm almost ready but I have to sign some papers before they'll let me go."

"You sure look a lot better than when they brought you in here, Buddy," Bodie beamed.

"Did you bring me anything to wear?" Tommy chortled.

"Well no, Tommy, I didn't even think of that. I guess you'll just have to ride home in that pretty little gown you got there."

"Aw come on, Bodie. You're kidding, right? I can't wear this thing in the public. What if some woman or kid saw me, or Ol' Red. I'd never live it down," Tommy whined.

"Come to think of it, Tommy Boy, those old worn seats in my truck probably wouldn't feel too good. Your bare butt sticking out the back of that gown and all," Bodie shot back with a laugh.

Tommy was grabbing the gown tight across his backside when Bodie tossed him the sack of clothes.

"I went by your place and picked you up some underwear, shorts and a fishing shirt. Your flip-flops are in there, too," Bodie said. "Get dressed. I'll be down the hall in the waiting room."

Bodie was thumbing through a three-year-old fishing magazine when a ruckus broke out in Tommy's room. He got up in time to see Tommy doing his best to fight off two orderlies trying to put him in a wheelchair.

"Tommy! What in the world is going on, boy?"

"Bodie, tell these two gorillas to lemme go! I still remember how to walk," Tommy was yelling.

One of the orderlies looked at Bodie with pleading eyes. "Please, sir. Please ask him to cooperate. Patients can only leave the hospital in a wheel chair. It's the rules."

Bodie gave Tommy that old "I'm not fooling around here" glare and informed him he could ride in the wheelchair or he'd carry him out over his shoulder.

Tommy wondered for a second whether the big man was serious but a second glance into those icy eyes told him he'd better take a seat.

"Y'all be careful now, and don't be turnin' this thing over with me in it," he said, trying to lighten the mood.

As the elevator doors closed, Tommy wanted to know if Bodie would stop at Wienerschnitzel so he could get a few chili dogs and chili burgers, and a Dr Pepper.

"I just love their chili dogs and chili burgers, Bodie. They are just the best with extra onions and French fries," Tommy said, almost drooling.

"Tired of hospital food huh, Tommy," Bodie asked with a grin.

"Oh my Lord, Bodie. They like to starve me to me death and I haven't had a cold beer in a month," Tommy said excitedly.

"What did your doctor say about drinking beer?" Bodie asked.

"Ya know, I told him that I liked an ice-cold beer now and again, and he said that I could have at it. So I'm planning to follow his orders," Tommy giggled.

Bodie pulled up to the drive-through at Wienerschnitzel and Tommy blurted out, "Oh wow, Bodie, they have the 12-12 & 12 special going on!" Bodie scanned the menu and sure enough, the special was 12 chili dogs, 12 chili burgers and 12 orders of fries.

"Tommy, maybe you ought to go easy on the chili–just out of the hospital and all," Bodie said.

"Heck no, Bodie, I'm going to eat what I can right now and the rest is for dinner tomorrow. And don't forget the Dr Peppers," Tommy gushed.

Bodie placed the order and a young female voice announced the price. "Aw heck, Bodie, I don't have any money," Tommy exclaimed.

"I've got this, Tommy, don't worry about it." Bodie paid the girl and they hit the road.

Bodie had to admit the food smelled good and before he could comment Tommy was digging in the sack, "You want a chili dog or a chili burger, Bodie?"

Between bites of chili burger Bodie allowed as how it was quite tasty.

"Oh, I know, Bodie. I just love this stuff," Tommy replied, tearing at his burger like a wolf. "You wanna try a chili dog next?"

Bodie took a sip of Dr Pepper, "Yeah, why not. And lemme try some of those fries, too."

Twenty miles later Bodie had eaten two chili burgers, two of the chili dogs and a bag of fries. Tommy had somehow stuffed twice that amount down his scrawny neck.

"Man, I could eat these all day, Bodie, how about you?" Tommy managed between burps.

"Yeah, Tommy, they're good all right. But I think I've reached my limit of chili and onions," Bodie chuckled, rooting in his shirt pocket for a toothpick.

Bodie turned into Tommy's driveway. "What's been going on here? It looks different!" Tommy exclaimed.

"Yep, that new paint sure brightens it up, doesn't it?" Bodie said with a smile.

"Bodie, who in the world painted my house?"

"The folks at the EMS all pitched in, and some others," Bodie replied.

"Well, wh-what for?" Tommy asked.

"Tommy, they did it because they like you and wanted to give you a homecoming gift."

Bodie grabbed what was left of the Wienerschnitzel sack and Tommy's home-care package from the hospital; "Come on, Tommy, let's have a look inside."

Tommy whistled in disbelief, "My god, Bodie, they painted inside, too. And new flooring!"

Bodie was naturally proud of how everybody had pitched in but Tommy was suddenly glum, "Why the sad face, Tommy Boy," he asked.

"Oh, this is too much, Bodie, way too much," Tommy squeaked tearfully.

"Well, you have lots of friends, Tommy, maybe more than you know. And we were all in it together," Bodie assured him. "What say you get yourself together and we'll head in to Haddon's for a couple cold ones, and then call it a night."

Haddon's parking lot was full and Tommy was surprised. "Must be that weeknight shrimp and oyster special you told me about, Bodie."

Bodie held the door for Tommy and a huge round of cheers greeted them. Tommy looked like he was about to crawl under a table but before he could move he was riding shoulders and sitting on the bar, sipping a cold sudsy mug.

Red gave Tommy a big bear hug and told him he'd had his boat lift rebuilt, "But don't go getting all mushy on me, it's not like I missed you or anything!" Red shouted over the cheers.

Bert, the local knife maker, gave Tommy a beautiful handmade fillet knife and Mr. Sellers was next, announcing that Tommy's old freezer was in the dump and the new one was full of prime Angus steaks. A group of Coasties presented a fancy shirt they'd had made and a certificate declaring that Tommy Meyers had been made an Honorary Admiral in the US Coast Guard.

Whistling between her fingers to still the crowd, Eloisa announced Haddon's newest menu item; The Tommy Burger–two quarter pound patties, cheese, pickles, onions, bacon and chili, on a jalapeno sourdough bun. The crowd cheered again and Tommy started choking. Eloisa applied the slap on the back he always needed at such times.

"Speech! Speech!" everybody yelled.

Tommy got down from the bar in tears and did his best to assure his friends he loved them all and was deeply moved by their generosity. "All of you are my family," he choked between sobs of joy.

"I'm your family, too, Brother!" Vince Meyers exclaimed as he burst through the door. "Sorry I'm late, but it's a long drive from Corpus!"

"Vince!" Tommy screamed as they met mid-floor, hugging and dancing like ten-year-olds. "Eloisa!" Tommy yelled. "The beer's on me. For the next hour!"

The crowd went to roaring, again.

Red slid in next to Bodie at the bar and said that he sure had missed Tommy. "Just wasn't the same around here, Bodie." He quipped. "Didn't have a single person to pick on the whole time he was gone."

The crowd celebrated while Tommy and Vince took a table and chatted over how good it felt to be reunited. Bodie was happy, too. Feeling all was right in the world, or at least in their tiny fishing town. He had lots of things to catch up at the ranch. But that could wait. For tonight, anyway.

In the back of mind, though Raymond Woodford, and the promise that they'd meet again.