Andie pulled over across from a red brick row house.
“This is it,” she said, “Shall we?”
“No, no,” Bob replied. They stared at the house quietly.
“I think we should go up there,” Andie commented.
Bob leaned over her as he studied the house, “Will you just give me a minute?”
“Alright,” she spat, “I think you just need to walk up there. I mean, we drove all this way.”
“I know, I know,” he waved her off and didn’t stop staring at the house. “You’re coming with me, aren’t you?”
“Well…” balked Andie.
“See,” Bob pointed out, “It is a problem for you.”
“Oh, it is not, I just-” Andie fought back, “Fine!” She got out of the car abruptly and slammed the door. She started across the street and looked back at Bob. He grumbled and hoisted himself out of the car. She waited for him on the sidewalk, then bounded up the steps and rang the bell. A woman with a blond ponytail answered.
“Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for Rollo?” Andie said shyly.
“What is this about?” the woman said suspiciously. Bob reached the top of the stairs.
“We need to speak with Rollo-”
“Honey, who is it?” A man came down the hallway carrying a toddler in his arms.
“Rollo,” Bob called. Rollo passed his daughter to his wife.
“Take her back inside,” he ordered. He turned to Bob, “What are you doing here, Bob?”
“Is that your father?” the woman exclaimed. Rollo waved her off.
“I came to talk,” Bob replied.
“Well, you certainly took your time coming, but I’m not interested,” Rollo began closing the door. Andie shoved her combat boot in the crack and pushed on the door.
“Hey! We drove all the way out here. You’re going to at least hear him out!”
Rollo stopped, “And who the hell are you?”
Bob stepped forward and lied, “She’s my personal care assistant. In case you haven’t heard, I’m dying. Dying a slow, painful death just like I deserve, so can you give me a break and listen?”
“I’m listening…” Rollo replied unsure.
“Can we come in?” Andie asked, “All this excitement will make Bob light-headed.” Bob’s hand went to his brow as he pretended fatigue.
“Oh yes, I need to sit down,” he stumbled a bit faint to drive the point home.
“Alright,” Rollo opened the door to let them in. He directed them to a living room off the hall. Bob settled himself in a chair while Andie perched on the end of the couch.
“So what do you want to say?” Rollo asked. His wife lingered in the hallway. A horrible cover for eavesdropping. Bob looked at the frames on the side table.
“Is this in Paris?” he asked pointing at one.
“Oh yes,” Rollo’s wife came in, “It was our honeymoon.” Rollo shot her a look. She ignored him and came forward, “I’m June. It’s nice to finally meet you.” Bob took her offered hand.
“The pleasure is mine. Paris is a great city to get lost in. I hope you took the time to get lost.” He smiled. June giggled and sat on the couch next to Andie, who was hiding an eye roll.
“I would like to go back. Maybe when Greta is older,” June added.
“That’s your daughter?” Bob gestured to the hall where they had seen the little girl.
“Yes, Greta just turned two last month,” June replied.
“Just the one?”
“Yes, just Greta and getting her was hard enough.”
“June!” Rollo growled, “Not everyone needs to know!”
“I don’t see why you get so worked up about it. Besides it’s your father and she must have some medical training to be a PCA.”
“That’s right, I do,” added Andie. She hoped she wasn’t asked any specific medical questions. She didn’t have the first clue about being a nurse.
“Can we just get to the point of why you’re here,” Rollo grouched.
“Rollo, you’re my son. Even though I’ve been a pretty shitty dad I still care about you. I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t screw you up to bad.” Rollo laughed out loud and that began a long discussion with Rollo. June eventually invited them to stay for dinner.
Bob set down the toddler and she ran off giggling into the house.
“Andie,” he panted. He sank to the ground clutching his chest. “I think-”
“Bob!” Andie cried as she rushed to him, “What’s wrong?”
“My heart,” Bob struggled to say. June and Rollo ran out of the house.
“What is going on?”
“I think he’s having a heart attack or something!” Andie sobbed as she clutched at Bob.
“Call 911!” Rollo shouted. June ran back inside.
“Dad,” Rollo knelt down beside them, “Can you hear me?”
Bob sputtered. “Don’t let them take me back.” He pointed at Andie, “Don’t!”
“What is he talking about!” Rollo growled.
Andie was beside herself. “This isn’t for real. This isn’t what was supposed to happen!” she sobbed. Rollo grabbed her shoulders and shook her, “What is he talking about?”
“I took him from the hospice. They don’t know where we are,” she explained.
“You kidnapped my father from the hospice!” Rollo yelled.
Bob mumbled, “I’m not a kid.” Rollo was furious, he went inside to lead the EMTs through the house.
Andie stood back and watched as Bob was lifted onto a gurney. She followed them out to the driveway. The EMTs turned to talk to Rollo as next of kin about where they were headed.
“No,” Andie whispered, “They are not taking him away from me!” She ran to cab of the ambulance and got it. Andie turned the ignition and slammed it into drive. The wheels screeched as she tore away from the curb. The EMTs grew smaller in the side mirror as she sped off.
Andie didn’t know where she planned to go. Bob needed help, but she wasn’t ready to let go yet. She slowed down and got back on the freeway to Los Angeles. She drove silently until the sun was beginning to set.
“Andie?” Bob croaked from the back.
“Yeah, Bob?” She turned in her seat to glance back at him.
“Pull over,” he requested.
Andie took the next exit and came to a stop outside a gas station. She climbed in back and took Bob’s hand. He was breathing better, but was extremely pale.
“What is it, Bob?” she whispered.
He sighed, “I think our trip is over. It’s time to go back.”
“But I’m not ready yet.” Tears were beginning to well up in her eyes again.
“You can’t take care of me on your own and you need to get back to your own life,” Bob said. “It’s time to face the music.”
“No, Andie, we need to go back, but this isn’t the end, I promise.”
Andie nodded, wiped her tears and got back in the driver’s seat. It was a quiet drive back to the city. Andie pulled up to the emergency room doors of the hospital and doctors came out. They opened the back of the ambulance to find Andie sitting next to Bob.
“It’s his heart,” she said as they quickly pulled him out and rushed him inside and left her behind. She milled about the waiting room until the early morning hours. Finally she approached the nurses’ station.
“Can you tell me the status of Bob Blackwell?” she asked, “We came in around 10 pm.”
“And you are?” the nurse asked.
“I’m his daughter,” Andie said sternly. The nurse tapped away at her computer.
“According to this, he’s in stable condition and resting, but visiting hours don’t start until 8 am.”
Andie walked away and went to the hospital café for coffee. As she sat down, two policemen showed up and talked to the nurse at the station. She nodded in Andie’s direction. They turned and approached her.
“Miss, you need to come with us,” the first officer said.
“What is this about?” she asked.
“You removed a very ill patient from Sunset Hospice without permission. You kept him from regular medication and assisted with the procurement of alcohol. You interfered with emergency medical attention of paramedics and stole an ambulance. You’re lucky he didn’t die,” the second officer said. The first officer began reading the Miranda and pulled out his handcuffs. Andie did not resist and was lead away in front of all the stares of the waiting room.
At the police station, Andie was left in a quiet room. A detective came to question her, but she didn’t say a word. Eventually, she was placed in a holding cell to wait. After several more hours an officer came and said she was free to go. In the reception area, a man in a suit with a briefcase was waiting for her.
“Andrea Palmer, I’ve represented Bob for years, but this has got to be the strangest situation yet. He asked me to come down and sort things out for you. I’ve gotten all the charges dropped, but the ambulance really caused some problems. Thankfully, you have a very clean record.” The lawyer chuckled. “This has been a very strange day. Rollo brought your car down once they found out where Bob was. It’s at the hospital. I’ll drive you.”