In a small motel in a sub-division of LA, a man in his early 60s was sitting in front of his TV mesmerized by what he saw on the news. At first he didnít pay much attention, they were saying something about an accident on the freeway, until a name caught his attention, a name that brought him back to a time of innocence. He looked at the face and recognized it even after all these years. He didnít listen to what was said anymore, all he saw was that face. A face and a name that he swore he would never forget, a face and a name that took him almost his lifetime of searching for. A man that would pay dearly for all the pain that he had inflicted, and that man was Mark Sloan. Now all he had to do was to find a way to get him.
"Sloan, your mine now and nothing will stop me" he told himself. Then he took the phonebook, pushed some bottles of pills that had the name 'Paul Thompson' on them out of the way and started searching for the name Sloan but couldnít find it. By listening again, he heard the newsperson say that Sloan was working at Community General Hospital here in L.A. "OK I'll go see him at this hospital they say he's working".
Community General Hospital
2 AM. After a grueling 8 hours of surgery on different patients, victims of an enormous pile-up on the freeway, Mark thanks everybody who helped during these hours, then made his way to the coffee lounge where Jesse and Amanda were waiting. Dragging his feet on his way there, he saw a man standing in the corridor, just staring at him. Mark stopped and looked at him, he was going to ask him if there was something wrong, when the man suddenly turned and left. Mark felt a shiver run down his spine but didn't know why. "He looked familiar but...Ahh! I'm too tired to think straight anymore" and continued to the coffee lounge.
"Is it really over?" asked a shut-eye Amanda when she saw Mark come in the doorway. "Oh yes" he answered, bumping into a chair first, before slumping on the sofa to lie down. "Oh boy, my back hurts, my feet hurts and I can't focus on anything anymore".
"Mark, I'm calling Steve. We're not gonna let you drive your car in your condition" Jesse said looking at Amanda who nodded her approval.
Mark didnít even argued with that, so Jesse got up and went to the phone to dial Mark's home numbers.
After a few rings, Steve picked up the phone.
"Steve, it's me Jesse".
"Jesse, as my dad finish? I've called earlier and I was told that he was still in the OR".
"Yes Steve, but Amanda and I feel that Mark shouldn't drive his car, he's too tired, so we would like you to pick him up."
"OK, I'll be right there, thanks Jess."
"Hey, no problem Steve."
It took about 30 minutes for Steve to drive to the hospital. He walked directly to the coffee lounge, where he found his dad sleeping on the sofa. "How long was he on call?"
Jesse and Amanda looked at him "Well if you don't count his regular hours..." Jesse started to say.
"More than 8 hours." cuts in Amanda.
Steve shook his head and walked to his father who was now sound asleep and crouched beside him.
"Dad! dad, wake up" he said but Mark didn't move, so he gently nudged his dad on the shoulder and tried again, "Come on dad, wake up."
This time, his father slowly opened his eyes, "Steve, have you been here long?" asked Mark.
"No, I just got in, come on dad, let's go home".
Mark tried to get up from the sofa but his back refused to obey. " I think I'll need some help here".
Steve and Jesse grabbed each one arm and gently pulled him up to his feet.
Mark groaned with the effort.
Steve saw the pain on his dad's face. "It's your back again?"
"Yes" Mark said painfully, putting both hands on his back, trying to ease the pain, then looked down at the sofa, " I don't think this sofa helped much".
"What pain?" asked Jesse.
"Oh, dad always had that back problem", Steve looked at his father, "But it seems to hurt you more than usual".
Mark waved at it "It'll go away". He didn't want to admit it, but it did hurt him more. "Mark, you want me to look at your back?" asked Jesse worried.
"No-no Jesse, it will go away in a while, don't worry". He looked at Steve "How about going home now?"
"I'm ready when you are" Steve told him.
Mark looked at Jesse and Amanda "Your shifts are over?"
They both nodded.
"Why don't you all come to my house for the rest of the night?" looking at his watch "Or should I say, the rest of the day? I'll guarantee you, it will be quiet".
"Sure" they said together.
"Wait a minute" Steve said, "are you two as tired as dad?"
Amanda nodded " I don't know about Jesse but I'm really tired. And I don't have my car, it's in the garage".
"I'll drive you" offered Jesse.
Steve looked at Jesse " I don't want you to drive if you're too tired, Jess".
Jesse shook his head "I'm OK Steve, I'm used to do long shifts. Amanda and I will go to your place".
"So come on, let's go home". Putting his hand on Steve's shoulder for support, Mark left followed by Jesse and Amanda.
At beach house, Mark still needed help climbing the stairs to the front door.
Steve looked at Jesse, he wished his father would let Jesse take a look at him, but Mark refused, "It will go away tomorrow, Steve. All I need is a good night sleep".
Amanda was given the guest room, Jesse decided to sleep on the couch in the living room.
"I'm not that tired yet, so I'll watch the TV if it's OK with you Mark?"
"Whatever you want Jesse" Mark said and went directly to his room.
Steve waited for a while, then went to his dad's room "Dad?"
Mark slowly turned and saw Steve standing in the doorway.
Steve was concerned "Do you want me to give you a massage for your back?"
"I'm too tired Steve, all I want to do now, is sleep."
"You want the warm pack then, I'll get it for you?"
Mark knew that Steve really wanted to help and nodded at him.
"I'll be right back" said Steve.
He walked to the kitchen, opened the freezer door and took the ice pack.
Jesse followed Steve, thinking that Steve was getting something to eat "What are you eating?"
Steve showed him the ice pack "It's not for me Jess, it's for dad".
"Oh, how long has Mark had that back problem?"
Steve put the pack in the micro-wave, pressed the time button and pressed start. "He's always had it, I mean as long as I remember".
"Did he ever told you how it happened?"
"No, dad has always refused to say how he got it, you know as much as I do. Anyway, it always hurt him when he's in a lot of stress".
Jesse shook his head "I've seen Mark in a lot of stress before, but it's the first time I see him with a back pain. What does his personal physician say about it?"
"I've asked him, but he told me that dad asked him not to tell me anything".
Jesse made a funny face "Don't you find this strange?"
"Well, yes and no" Steve told him.
Jesse look at Steve and shook his head "What do you mean?"
"He and dad are old friends, they grew up together and I've heard some wild things they did when they were younger. So, I guess it's something that happened back then".
Jesse smiled "Oh, I get it, and you think Mark's to embarrass to say what happened?"
The micro-wave beeped, Steve opened the door and took out the pack.
Jesse's was still thinking of what Steve said about the wild things Mark did. "Steve, what kind of wild things are you talking about?"
"Jess, It's too late now, I have to bring this to dad".
"Look Steve, if it's an old injury it probably can be fixed, with today's medicine".
Steve nodded "I'll talked to him tomorrow".
Jesse returned to the living room, sat on the couch and turned the TV on with the remote. While going through the channels, he stopped when he saw a documentary that got his attention. He loves documentaries, no matter what they were, as long as they were well done.
Haft an hour later, Mark woke up, actually it was that damn pain again, the warm pad didn't help too much, he felt asleep because he was too tired. He tried to change position in his bed but the pain didnít go away. The longer he laid there, the more the pain became unbearable. Mark tried to get out of bed, but only manage to sit, he couldn't get up, now that worried him. The only thing he could do, was to call Steve on the phone. But how do you tell your son that you needed him without have him panicking, "The only way the pain will go away is by taking pain killers" Mark told himself. Even stretching his arm to get the phone on the bedside table caused him pain, he dialed Steve's number.
Down in his room, Steve was ready to go up and tell Jesse to turn down the volume of the TV, when his phone rang. He immediately picked it up.
"Steve it's your dad, sorry to wake you, but I need you in my room".
"Dad, what's wrong, what's the matter?" Steve didn't wait for an answered, he left his room and ran upstairs to his father's bedroom. "Dad?"
Mark looked at the phone and then at Steve. "Steve, go to the medicine cabinet and get me some pain killers, I can't get out of bed and the pain's getting worse".
Jesse was still watching TV, when he saw Steve rushing to Mark's room, "Steve?"
Steve didn't stop to explain, but kept running.
"Steve, what's wrong?" Jesse got up and followed him. As he reached Mark's bedroom, Steve pushed him aside to get the pills. Jesse walked in "Mark, what's wrong?, Is it your back again?"
Mark nodded "Jesse, go with Steve and help him out."
In the meantime, Steve who was in the bathroom, yelled "Dad ,what kind of pain killers do you want?" then realized that Amanda was sleeping in the guest room.
"Oh great", said Mark, "Now I'll have everybody up."
As he was saying that, Amanda came out of her room half asleep, wondering why Steve was yelling.
Steve walked back to his father's room, looked at Amanda "Sorry" he said and returned to his dad. "Dad, I don't know what kind of pills you want?"
Immediately Amanda followed Steve to Mark's bedroom "Mark, what's wrong?"
By now everybody was in his room.
"Now people, please this is not the only bedroom in this house" said Mark, who was starting to really get annoyed by all this. "Will you all please go back to your own room?"
"Well," said Amanda, "it's not my fault, I was sleeping when I heard Steve yell."
"And I, was quietly watching TV when I saw Steve rushing out of his room and to your room" Jesse pointed at Steve.
"Hey wait a minute, are you guys accusing me?, it's not my fault, dad called me on the phone".
They all started to talk at the same time, the only one silent in all this was Mark.
"Now that everybody has given his or her excuses, can someone please get something for me?"
They all looked at him and almost said at the same time "Oh my God!".
Jesse left, ran to the medicine cabinet and returned with some pills and a glass of water. "Here Mark, take these, they will help, but you should let me examine your back in the morning."
Mark gratefully took the pills and told Jesse, "We'll see about that. Now out, everybody out of this room, now".
"Dad, are you sure you're OK now?, why don't you let Jesse check you out".
"Steve, the pain is only there once in a while, it's rarely that bad, now if you don't mind I would like to get some sleep".
"You're not going to work in the morning dad, you're staying here". Steve really meant it.
As they were all leaving his bedroom, Mark heard Steve asked Jesse what program he was watching at this time of night, but could not clearly hear what Jesse's answer was, something about a documentary of...
After a while, the pills started to take effect. Finally Mark could sleep, but kept thinking about the events of the day, that awful accident, all those people and that strange man he saw at the hospital, that face, "Where have I seen him before?"
He started to drift away, then at a distance, far away, very far away, he heard an explosion, then another. "It must be the TV" he told himself.
People screaming for help, people begging, then one voice, one particular voice yelling,
"YOU LEFT ME BEHIND, YOU PROMISED YOU'D COME BACK, BUT YOU LEFT ME BEHIND", that same voice over and over again.
Mark was deep in his dream.
He felt pain, terrible pain and saw blood on him, then he started to call someone, "Sam!... Sam!..."
Mark felt a pressure on his shoulders, like somebody holding him down, he tried to fight but that pain again. He heard a voice speaking to him, but softer this time.
"Mark!, come on Mark, wake up" someone told him.
In his dream, Mark saw himself laying in a pool of blood, between bodies, some were dismantled "Oh God Sam, we have to help them", he said loud again, "dead, they're all dead".
"YOU LEFT ME BEHIND, YOU PROMISED YOU'D COME BACK, BUT YOU LEFT ME BEHIND"
"I'm sorry, I tried to come back. I didn't mean to leave you" Mark answered back.
"Mark, wake up", Amanda said again. When he didn't, she started to get worried, he was so agitated.
"NO" screamed Mark, then he woke up in panic, he looked around wondering where he was, when he realized he was in his own room and Amanda staring down at him. He put his hand on his chest and the pounding was tremendous, he just laid there.
"Mark, are you alright?" she asked, "Mark?"
It took him a long time before he could answer "Yes... I'm OK!", he was shaking.
"Boy, that must have been one bad dream, you want to tell me?"
Mark shook his head, he really didn't want to talk about it.
Amanda decided to stay with him for a while and sat on the edge of the bed, just to make sure that he was really OK.
Around 8 in the morning, Amanda was in the kitchen preparing coffee, still thinking about Mark's dream and how agitated he had been. Then she heard a snoring, she looks at Jesse lying on his back on the couch with the TV still on. As she was about to turned the TV off, Steve came up the stairs and greeted him with a smile and good morning.
"Morning Amanda!" said Steve, then stopped and listened, "What is that noise?"
Amanda pointed in the direction of the livingroom and at Jesse.
"Should we wake up Sleeping Beauty?" ask Steve, "Hey! the TV's still on." so he took the remote and turned the TV off.
As he did that, Jesse opened his eyes, looked around and saw Steve and Amanda staring at him. "What are you two looking at?" asked Jesse.
"Do you always sleep with the TV on?"
"Dunno!" replied Jesse yawning. He got up, rubbed his eyes and walked to the kitchen, "Hmm, coffee."
Steve and Amanda followed him and laughed.
"Hey Steve, Mark's still sleeping?" Jesse asked while pouring coffee in a cup.
"Looks that way, but God, he really scared me last night. When he said he couldn't get up from his bed, I never saw him in so much pain".
"Steve?, what I've told you yesterday about the advance of medicine and all that, I'm sure Mark knows, why hasn't he done anything?"
"Maybe he already asked and was told that nothing could be done".
" I don't know Steve" Jesse said " I would like a second opinion on that, are you sure Mark's own doctor is really competent?"
Steve smiled "Yes, he is Jess".
"Well, he gave me quite a scare too." said Amanda.
They stared back at her with a questioning look. "What do you mean?" Steve asked her.
"Around 4 AM, I heard voices, so I got up, open my door and listen. It came from his room, I walk to it and listened at the door, he was mumbling something."
"Did you hear what he said?" asked Steve.
"At first, it didn't make any sense, except for 'Sam', he called that name a few times, I was intrigue so I stay and listened, then he called 'Sam' again but louder and 'they're all dead' he said in a more panicking way. So I slowly opened the door and saw that he was very agitated, then Mark said something and the way he said it, seemed to mean a lot to him".
"What was it?" Steve asked intrigued.
Amanda tried to remember exactly what Mark said, "Iím sorry, I tried to come back, I didn't mean to leave you". I walked to his bed and I could see that his breathing was very rapid. He mumbled something about an explosion, then he clearly said "Oh God Sam, we have to help them". I tried to wake him up, at first he didn't and it worried me, so I kept repeating is name until he finally woke up and to make sure he was alright, I stayed with Mark for a while.
Amanda looked at Steve "The way Mark said it sounded so real, it's like he was reliving is dream".
Steve tried to understand the meaning of those words, "Why would dad ask about Sam?"
"Do you know anybody by that name?" she asked.
"Yes, he's an old friend of dad, unless it's somebody else but I'm sure it's him. Every time dad mention Sam's mane, he's always taking about his old friend".
"Did Mark have dreams like that before?"
Steve shook his head " I don't remember".
"How could you hear anything?" asked Jesse, "You sleep downstairs, I was in the livingroom and I didn't heard a thing".
"Yea, you're right, but what does those words mean?"
"It's just a dream Steve, it doesn't have to mean anything" said Jesse.
Amanda shook her head "Jesse, there are some dreams that you mumble while you dreaming, but Mark clearly spoke and it wasn't just words, it's like he was really there, wherever that was and when he woke up, he was shaking". She turned to Steve "Look, I'm not an expert on dreams, but to me Mark was reliving something that happened, it sounded to real to be just a dream, I'm sure of that".
Steve was very concerned "What could dad and Sam have done together" he thought, "that would have dad dream like that". He looked at his watch, then at them, " I have to go to the office and finish some paperwork, I'll try to come back as soon as I can. All this worry me, can any of you stay with dad while I'm gone? I donít want him to go to the hospital today after all the hours he did, plus his back pain. I've told him last night but just in case he forgets?
Jesse and Amanda looked at each other, "Sure" Jesse said smiling, "what do you want us to do, tie him to a chair?"
"Whatever you want" answered Steve, "just donít let him go, OK?"
After the dream, Mark was wide awake, he couldn't go back to sleep. Sometimes he would pace in his room and other times just sit, the pain was still there but it was more bearable than last night.
"Why am I'm dreaming about this, after all these years?" he asked himself, "It can't be the back pain alone, there must be something else, but what". He tried to think of the recent events, but didn't find anything that could cause the dream to come back.
"Oh God, I hope it's not starting all over, it took me years to forget. I can't go through this again, I can't".
He looked at the time, "6 AM, I 've got an hour before going to the hospital".
Still pondering on the subject, he decided that a shower could clear his mind. After the shower, he felt worse. Mark got dress and went to the kitchen to find Jesse and Amanda sitting at the table.
They looked at him and stared.
"Didn't your parents ever told you that it's not polite to stare?" asked Mark.
"Oh sorry Mark, but my God you look awful. You didn't get any sleep after that dream did you?" Amanda asked.
"No, I guess I'm not use to doing long shift anymore".
"What was the dream about?"
Without looking at them, he said " I donít remember anything".
She looked at Jesse, surprised by his answer.
"Where's Steve?" Mark asked.
"He went to the office, said he had paperwork to finish" answered Amanda still looking at him.
"Hey Mark, how's your back this morning?" Jesse wanted to know.
" I could look at it, free of charge?" Jesse tried some humor on Mark.
Mark walked to the counter and took a cup, "Coffee's ready?" he asked.
"Is that a yes or a no? Jesse was waiting for an answer.
He saw Jesse and Amanda staring back at him but refused to answer Jesse and started to poured himself coffee.
"Here, I'll do it" Amanda told him, while she fill his cup, she asked him "what do you want for breakfast?"
"No, no breakfast, just coffee will be fine".
"Mark, you always take a meal in the morning, it would do you some good".
"No thanks Amanda, just coffee please".
Jesse didn't understand why Mark refused to answer him and looked back at Amanda.
"You guys have nothing to do today?" Mark asked them.
"Nope, we're sticking with you today Mark" added Jesse smiling.
Mark got up and started to leave, when Amanda stopped him, "Mark, where are you going?"
"To the hospital".
"Hmm, you can't".
Mark looked at her, surprised "What do you mean, I can't?"
"Steve doesnít want you to" said Jesse apologizing.
"Oh really?, since when does he give me orders?" He started to leave again, when Jesse stopped him.
"Jesse, I'm just gonna go see some patients of last night's accident that's all, it won't take long".
Jesse looked at Amanda, "Then were going with you".
At the hospital, Paul was walking the corridor, hoping to see Sloan again but could not find him. So he decided to talk to the desk nurse. "Excuse me, is Dr. Sloan working today?"
Without looking at him as she was filling reports, the nurse said: "He's suppose to, can I do..." when she looked up, he was already gone, she looked in all direction but couldn't find him. "Well, he could have at least say thank you", then went back to work.
As Paul was asking the question to the nurse, he saw Mark coming out of the elevator and left immediately.
"You donít have to follow me around you know" said Mark, as they walked out the elevator.
"Mark" said Amanda, "we love to be with you, you know that".
"Alright, but be quiet or I'll leave you two waiting in the car".
"Yes Sir" answered Jesse.
They looked at each other and started to laugh. Mark appreciated these moments with his friends, he felt more relaxed now. As they were walking in, they saw a man standing next to the nurse desk, then saw him leave.
Paul had just turn the corner, when he heard the nurse say, "Oh Dr. Sloan, somebody was just here looking for you, but left quite fast".
"Oh, you mean the man who was just standing here a moment ago, did he leave his name?"
"No, and he didn't say what he wanted".
Mark found it strange but put it aside "OK, thank you".
At the police station, Steve was trying to finish filing the reports but kept thinking about his father "They grew up together, can it be something that happened that far back?" Steve shook his head, "No, it must have been more recently, but what?"
As he was thinking about it, his Captain came by "How are we doing with the reports, Steve?"
"Fine Sir, I'm almost finish" Steve lied.
"So I'll have them by noon" his Captain said before leaving.
"Yep, no problem Sir" Steve saw him go back to his office, "Dad's dreams will have to wait a moment before the Captain chews my head off". Then he decided to do one fast call home, to see how he was doing. He let it ring a couple of times, "Oh no" he said, " I know where he is", he hung up the phone and called the hospital.
As Mark and his friends turned the corridor, the desk nurse called "Phone call Dr. Sloan".
Mark walked to the desk and took the phone "Dr. Sloan here".
"Dad, what are you doing there?"
"Oh, H I Steve, is something wrong? Mark knew why Steve was calling.
"I've told you not to go to work today, didn't you remember?"
Mark tried to explain to his son why he was here, but Steve wouldn't let him finish.
Steve would usually loose every arguments with his dad "Oh no, not this time" Steve told himself. While Steve was still arguing, Mark waved at Jesse and passed him the phone, "Keep him busy" he said and left.
As he walked back, he saw a man standing in the middle of the corridor just staring at him. "Hey, he looks like the man I saw here last night" Mark thought, then walked towards him.
Jesse yelled back "Mark, Steve still wants to talk to you".
Mark turned "Tell him I'm busy and I'll talked to him later", then turned again, but the man was gone. "Where did he go?"
Amanda joined him "Who?" she asked.
"The guy that was standing there".
When he left the hospital, Paul decided to wait in his car, wondering what to do now. " I have to know where he lives" he told himself. So he drove his car in front of the hospital and waited for Mark to leave. He was soon rewarded, when he saw Mark walking to his car.
"So" said Mark, "thank you for your company".
"Can I come for dinner?" asked Jesse, "don't want to miss a good argument".
"Jesse?" said Amanda angrily.
With his most innocent look, Jesse stared back at her "What?"
Mark laughed and asked Amanda "You want to come to?"
"Sure, but not for the same reason", giving Jesse a warning look.
They all got in their car this time and left for Mark's home not knowing that somebody was following them.
In his car Paul was laughing "Oh, this is lovely, I know where you work and now I'll know where you live, lead the way Sloan".
Steve was already home when he heard the front door open, got up and went directly to his father who was entering. "Dad, can I speak to you?"
"Not now Steve, we've got company".
Mark raised his hand "Not now", then went to his bedroom to change.
Steve looked at Jesse who was smiling at him, he grabbed is arm and dragged Jesse in the living room.
"Jesse, I thought that I asked you to stop dad from going to the hospital?"
"Hey you told Amanda too, why donít you drag her in also".
Amanda joined them "Steve did you really think that Jesse and I could stop Mark from going wherever he wants?"
Steve looked at them "No, I guess not, but did you at least try?"
They both nodded.
Outside, Paul was looking at the house "You've got a good position at the hospital and you live in a big house. I've lost everything because of you". He took a piece of paper and wrote Mark's home address and his car's licence. "We're going to play a little game together", then left.
After dinner, Mark decided to sit on the patio, letting the other three clean the table.
As a punishment Steve left the dishes to Jesse and Amanda, then joined his father outside.
Mark was still thinking about the man he saw at the hospital, it really bugged him. He new the man but could not put a name to him or where he'd seen him.
Steve approached him "Dad, can I speak to you?"
"Sure, if it's got nothing to do with the hospital"
" I promise", Steve said and sat beside him " I was talking to Jesse last night and he asked me about your back pain. I've told him that it was an old injury, Jess said that it probably can be fixed now with the advance of medicine".
" I now it can be, Steve".
"Then why donít you do anything about it?"
"Only when I retire".
"Won't it be too late by then?" asked Steve.
Later in the evening when Jesse and Amanda left, Mark was sitting at his desk working on the computer, when the phone rang, he pick it up "Mark Sloan here, what can I do for you?"
There was silence for a while, then a voice said "Did you recognize me?"
" I beg you pardon" said Mark.
"Did you recognize me?" said the voice a second time, then 'Click'.
Mark put the phone down and thought that somebody was playing a joke.
Steve came up from is room and asked his dad who called?
Mark looked at him "Wrong number", then added "Steve, do I have your permission to work tomorrow?"
"If I say no, will you stay home?"
Steve knew that his father love teasing him "Well" looking at his watch, "Time for me to go to bed, have to leave early tomorrow morning, donít work to hard, night dad". Steve went down to his room.
Mark continued to work on his computer, when the phone rang again, Mark pick it up "Hello?"
Again, there was silence and the same voice said "Did you recognize me?"
"Who is this?"
"Did you recognize me?"
"Maybe if you give me your name" said Mark, " I may recognize you".
"This is getting annoying" thought Mark.
Steve came up again, Mark just said "Wrong number again, go to bed Steve".
After a while, Mark turned off his computer "I've worked enough for tonight". On his way to his bedroom, he stopped in his track and walked to the bathroom. There, he opened the medicine cabinet and took a bottle of sleeping pills.
"This is only for tonight, I need at least one good night sleep", he took two pills with a glass of water and went to bed. He then decided to read a book, at least it would take his mind away for a while. After about 30 minutes, he had trouble keeping his eyes focused, he closed the book and turned off the light.
Mark fell asleep, after a while the dream came back. This time, it was more clear than the other night, Mark was walking with 2 other men, one was Sam but he couldn't remembered the other one.
Hot, it was so hot outside, It was dark, hot and very humid, as we were making our way through the thick forest, perspiration was running down our faces. Once in a while you could hear guns firing and explosions in the distance. The further we went into the forest, the closer we got to the action.
"How far is it?" asked Sam.
"Less than an hour to go" answered a young soldier. "What was his name again" Mark asked himself. "Oh yes, Jimmy".
Jimmy looked at the 2 of us, who he had finally convinced to help him retrieve his comrades left behind during the last attack.
"Hey Mark, don't you feel the adrenaline going again?" Sam asked.
"Look Sam, weíre not 18 anymore and I don't think the Captain's gonna be to happy to know what we're doing here".
"Come on Mark, this is fun" said Sam, "at least this time we see the action from the ground and not from the air".
" I see plenty of these actions on the operation table" I told him.
"What are you two talking about, what do you mean seeing the action from the air?" Jimmy asked.
We looked at each other and I said "We were in the Air Force in 1942, Sam was a pilot and I was his tail gunner".
Jimmy looked at us with wide eyes "Wow, really, how come you're doctors now?"
"Well, before the war, Mark and I were studying to be doctors when the war broke up. I was always interested in aviation so we enlisted in the U.S. Air Force..." Sam didnít finish his sentence when a bomb blew up about 20 feet in front of us.
" I think we're getting closer." said Jimmy.
"You think?" said Sam, "hey kid you better be sure 'cause this isn't just a stroll in the wood."
"No-no, I'm sure, we're very close now, wait I'll check". He made a small bird sound.
I looked at Sam "A cuckoo bird?"
Sam looked back at me and nodded.
"There's no cuckoo bird in this country" Jimmy told us.
Then we waited and in the distance, we heard the sound of another cuckoo bird. Afterwards, Jimmy answered back with two whistling sounds and received one in return as the agreed password code.
"OK", said Jimmy, "they're just in front of us".
We started walking more cautiously through the bushes, until we came in front of a ravine. We went down and found the group of wounded soldiers. One, who stood guard told Jimmy: "It's about time, we were losing fate in you kid".
Then that strange voice again "YOU LEFT ME BEHIND, YOU PROMISED ME YOU'D COME BACK, BUT YOU LEFT ME BEHIND.
Then there was an explosion, peoples were begging for help and that pain in his back.
"Blood, all that blood. Sam?... Sam?...Jimmy?"
"Dad wake up. Dad! come on wake up, it's a dream".
During the night, Steve woke up thinking of what had happened the night before and decided to go checked on his father, just to make sure that everything was alright. As he approached his father's room, he heard him calling 'Sam' again. Steve opened the door and found Mark agitated and repeating those same words as the night before.
"YOU LEFT ME BEHIND","I'm sorry" cried Mark aloud.
"YOU PROMISED YOU'D COME BACK", " I tried to come back".
"BUT YOU LEFT ME BEHIND", " I didn't mean to leave you, I did everything I could to help. We couldn't go back, you have to believed me".
Steve couldnít wake his father, so he kept repeating, "It's only a dream dad, only a dream". Slowly he felt his father calming down. "Dad, please wake up".
Mark opened his eyes and stared at his son, the look that Steve saw on his father's face shocked him. Then Mark put his head in his hands, he was out of breath and he was shaking.
Steve put his arms around him "It's OK dad, it's over now" and stayed like that for a while. As Steve stayed with him, he thought about the words "God, Amanda war right, it sound so real. But what does it mean? Steve tried to remember the last time his dad and Sam did something together, the only thing he thought about, happened so many years ago "Could it be that? It's the last time they have worked together".
When he was sure that his father had really calmed down, "I'm coming back, dad". Steve got up, went to the phone and called Jesse.
Half an hour later, Jesse was examining Mark "How do you feel, Mark?"
Without looking at Jesse, Mark nodded "I'm OK".
"Dad, are you sure?" asked Steve worried.
"Yes Steve, it's... happened before".
Steve waved at Jesse to follow him. Once in the livingroom "Jesse, this is his second nightmare in a row".
"Do you think they related?"
"Look's like it, remember what Amanda said about the strange phrases dad said, well he repeated them and added more".
"What did Mark say?" Jesse was intrigued.
'Iím sorry, I tried to come back, I didn't mean to leave you, I did everything I could to help to help you. We couldn't go back, you have to believed me', he also mentioned Sam's name again".
"Didn't you said that Sam was an old friend of Mark?" Jesse asked.
"Yes, dadís personal physician".
"Mark's own doctor?" Jesse asked. "Hey, remember what you said the other night, that it could be something that happened a long time ago" Jesse looked at Steve, "Could it be it?"
Steve shook his head " I know Jesse, I thought the same". Then he sat down "But if it's what I'm thinking, it must have been terrible for dad to still dream about it".
Jesse sat beside him "What do you mean Steve, do you know what happened?"
Steve bowed his head "I'm not sure Jess, but I know who to asked. I'll go see Sam tomorrow after work and he won't have any choice but to answer me this time".
"If you think you know what it is, what is it then?" Jesse asked again.
Steve stared at Jesse "It maybe something that happened more than 50 years ago".
"50 years ago" repeated Jesse, surprised.
Steve stood up "Look, I can't tell you more than that for the moment, not until I talked to Sam".
Jesse nodded "OK, you want me to stay?"
"No It will be alright now. I'll call you tomorrow".
When Jesse left, Steve went to his father's room. Mark was sitting on his bed, all dressed up.
"Dad, a few minutes ago you said that it happened before, what did you meant by that, were you talking about last night?"
Mark shook his head, then got up and left his room.
"Dad, where are you going?"
" I need some fresh air, I'll go out on the beach alone".
"But dad, how long do you think you can go on like that?"
Without turning Mark said " I donít know Steve, I donít know", then left by the patio door and walked to the beach.
Steve followed him but stayed inside and watched him from there. As he was looking at his dad he asked himself, "What could have happened, I have to know?"
Later, Mark came back in the house, Steve was waiting for him "Are you feeling any better?"
"No, not really".
"Who is Sam and Jimmy?"
Mark looked at him.
"You've mentioned their names in your dream?"
Without wanting to say too much "They're people I've known many years ago".
Steve wanted his father to tell him about his dream "Dad, is it Sam McGuire?"
Mark didnít answer, he was lost in his thoughts.
When Steve saw that his father wasnít listening, he put is hand on his arm "Dad, does it have to do when..."Steve hesitated "you were in the Air force?"
Mark stood up "No-no Steve, it as nothing to do with it".
Now Steve was confused, he was so sure that his father's dreams were about when he fought in WWII, "It's not, then what is it?"
"Steve, there's something causing those dreams and I want to know what, before I can tell you".
"But dad, I could help if...?", Steve saw that his father didn't want to say anymore, "What are you gonna do now?"
The next morning, Steve had decided to sleep in the livingroom, after what happened. Well he didn't sleep at all, he kept thinking what his dad said "If it's not WWII, when was it then? They fought together, I was so sure it was that. What could have they done after the war. Dad talked about explosions and blood. It can't be Korea, they didn't go there and it's not Vietnam, that I'm sure.
Steve scratched his head he didn't know what to think anymore. "If it's not during the war, what is it?".
He went to see is dad "You're still going to work?"
"Yes Steve, I have to keep my mind busy, see you later".
When Mark left, Steve went to his father desk drawer and looked for Sam's phone number, and called him. He then dialed the station to let them know that he would be coming in late and the last phone call was to Jesse. He told him what happened after he left last night.
"Dad's going to the hospital anyway, try to keep an eye on him".
"OK Steve, I'll tell Amanda. You're going to talked to Sam after work?"
"No, I'm going this morning, I can't wait that long, see you later Jess".
When Steve arrived at Sam's house, he was immediately greeted by Sam who was already outside waiting.
"Hello Steve" and shook his hand, "it's been a long time, too long. How are you doing?"
Steve just looked at Sam.
"Steve what is it, there's something wrong with Mark, isn't?".
"Sam, can we talk inside?" asked Steve.
They went in, Sam indicated a chair for Steve.
"Sam, I want you to tell me everything and please don't lie to me" Steve said as soon as he sat down.
Sam stared back at Steve and saw that he was serious "OK, I promise".
At the hospital, Jesse tried to be with Mark as much as he can. He saw Mark leaning against the wall. Jesse joined him, "Hey Mark, you mind if I do the rounds with you?"
"You have nothing to do right now? asked Mark as he rubbed his back.
"Not for the moment" Jesse said, "is your back still hurting you?"
Mark waved his hand "It's better than yesterday" and walked to a patient's room, with Jesse behind him. "So how are you doing Mr. Baker?" asked Mark yawning.
" I seem to be doing better than you, doctor" said Mr. Baker.
Mark shook his head "I'm sorry, I just had a long shift last night". Then look at the patient chart, "Well the operation went fine, you should be out of here in no time". Mark smiled at him but had to turned his head, when he started to yawned again. "I'll see you before you leave".
Outside the room, Jesse stared at Mark " I seem to remember someone telling me that a patient doesn't feel to comfortable when his doctor yawned in front of him" Jesse said.
Mark smiled at Jesse "Would that person be me?"
Jesse nodded "Looked Mark, let me do your rounds. Go lied down for a while and rested your back, it still hurting you. I'll get you if there's an emergency".
Mark wanted to argued, but couldn't. He knew Jesse was right "Yea, OK".
Putting his hand on Mark's back and walking with him towards an empty room, Jesse said "Why don't you used this room, it's empty for the moment".
"Jesse, if I'm not awake in an hour, come and get me. I got Mr. Miller to see".
Jesse nodded "Don't worry, just rest will you" and close the door behind him.
Mark lied down on the bed, at first he was afraid of the dreams, it was hard to relive those moments. But now he wondered if maybe, somewhere in the dreams, he would find the reason why he had them in the first place. He closed his eyes for a few moments, then fell asleep right away. In no time, he was back in it.
Sam was looking at the group of soldiers.
"Jimmy, you said that there would be only 3 soldiers here, there are 9. How are we gonna carry 9 soldiers back to camp?"
"Wait a minute Sam, let's see the injuries first, then we'll see".
So we walked to the men with our first aid kits. We checked them over and started treatments. We were putting bandages and compresses on their wounds, when I noticed that these men were really just kids no older than 17 or 18, about the same age I was when I enlisted. There was fear and horror in those young faces, something that I didn't feel when we were flying over the enemy line in WW2. When youíre flying you don't see the damages you're causing down below, you don't see death the way these men do on the ground.
I was still trying to reassure everyone that everything would be fine, and that they were going to make it out of here.
At the same time, Paul was at Mark's house, he rang the bell and waited, nobody answered the door. "Good, no one's home". So he started looking around the outside of the house, checked the garbage can and making sure nobody saw him. There he saw a box that came from a Book Store that was addressed to Mark Sloan, "Well look at that" he said, "I'm sure you'll be interested in the next book" and left with the empty box.
After we finished our task, and pondered the problem of moving 9 wounded soldiers out of the forest.
"OK, from what I can see, 5 men can walk or limp back to camp and 4 will have to be carried" Sam said.
"Sam, if we go directly to camp, there's no guarantee that they will let us return for the others. Between us we can only carry one man each, which means that two will be left behind and none of those men", I was indicating the wounded soldiers, "can carried an injured one".
"Now Sam listen to me, I know this will take time but we should all walk about half way to camp carrying our man, weíll leave them with Jimmy and the other 5, who will wait for us, while you and I go back to retrieve the other two left behind. Once regrouped, we hide the 2 injured soldiers that we brought. We move again very close to camp, still carrying 2 injured soldiers. We leave them with the other 5, Jimmy will go ahead and get help. Meanwhile, you and I will go back and get the last two and walk to the camp".
Jimmy who had listen to both side said " I agree with Mark, let's try to save them all if we can".
Sam looked at Jimmy "You, stay out of this".
"Mark if we do it your way, we are risking the lives of the entire group if we are caught by the enemy".
I knew Sam was right, but I also knew that I couldn't live with myself knowing that we could have saved them all.
"Well, am I right or not?" Sam asked me.
As we were deciding what to do, other explosions, this time closer, much closer, than the first threw us on the ground.
When everything was quiet, we got up. But my mind was made up "OK Jimmy, you know what to do".
"Mark? said Sam, I've told you that..."
"Sam we don't have time to argue anymore, we have to leave now. If you don't agree with me, go right a-head and walk to the camp".
Sam waited a moment, then gave in to my idea.
Jimmy gathered the 5 man who could walk and started moving out.
Mark started to call names again. "Sam...Jimmy?...Where are you? "All that blood...Dead, they're all dead".
At Sam's house Steve was describing his father's dream, "Dad thinks that there's something causing those dreams. And it seem like it started with his back pain. Sam, could they be connected?"
"Yes they are, but there must be something else that's causing those dreams".
Sam remembered how Mark hurt his back, "What are those words that Mark kept repeating?"
"Iím sorry, I tried to come back, I didn't mean to leave you, I did everything I could to help you. We couldn't go back, you have to believed me." Steve looked at Sam "Does it make any sense to you?"
Sam waved at Steve to be silent for a moment, he was thinking about the phrase, repeating it in his head, over and over again.
Steve waited a moment, he wanted Sam to remember if it really meant something. "Sam, I was so sure that dad's dreams were when he was in the Air force".
Sam stared at Steve "What made you think of that?"
Steve lift his shoulders " I don't know, maybe the words he said. He talked about explosion, then he mention your name and that they're all dead. It's the only explanation I came up with".
Sam nodded "Well you're almost right". Then it came back to him, he remember now " I got it, but Oh God I hope Iím mistaking".
"You remember? Steve repeated, "so the dreams are real, right?"
"Yes Steve, itís something that really happened many years ago".
Sam stood up "Where's Mark right now?"
"At the hospital, why? Sam what is it?"
"Steve, I hope I'm wrong. If it's what I'm thinking about, we better go to your father right away but I can't tell you more than that, because I'm not 100% sure and I don't want to blame anybody".
Back at the hospital and back in Mark's dream,
All the soldiers that could walk, helped the ones that were limping and followed Jimmy out of the ravine. Sam and I were carrying the injured. As we were leaving, one of the two soldiers left behind pleaded with me to take him first, that his injuries were far worst than the rest of them. I stopped, turned around and walked towards that man and asked for his name.
"Paul" he answered, "What's yours?"
"Mark Sloan. Paul look at me, I promise that I'll be back for the two of you.
I will not leave you behind, I'll be back in about half an hour".
Paul looked at the others going, then at me. Pointing his finger, with anger and a threat in his voice he said: "You better be back for me 'cause if you don't and leave me behind, I'll be looking for you wherever you are and you'll pay for this".
Sam overheard the threat and stopped in his tracks, he turned around, shocked at what he heard "Come on Mark, we have to go".
Then I turned without saying another word to the soldier, and left with Sam.
YOU LEFT ME BEHIND, YOU PROMISED YOU'D COME BACK BUT YOU LEFT ME BEHIND.
Mark woke up and said "It's him".
Jesse who had been talking to Amanda, checked his watch. "I'll wake up Mark now".
"No Jesse, let him sleep" said Amanda.
" I can't, Mark's got a patient to see in 15 minutes".
"Who's the patient?" she asked.
"Mr. Miller, and you know how he is, if he doesnít see Mark, he'll start complaining that he's paying our salary and if he doesnít get the proper care he'll..."
"OK, OK Jesse, I know who you're talking about".
So they walked to the room, Mark was sitting on the bed, wide awake, when they entered.
"It's him" Mark told them.
"Who are you talking about?" asked Jesse.
"The voice in my dreams".
"Sam" Amanda and Jesse said at the same time, it was the only person that Mark mention in his dream.
"No, no, Paul".
"Who's Paul?" they looked at Mark, not understanding a thing.
Just before leaving Sam's house, Steve called his office again, telling them he wouldn't come today.
As they drove to the hospital, Steve wanted to know when the action occurred, "Sam, if it wasn't when he was in the Air Force, when was it then?"
"Well you were right about the war, but it was the Korean war".
Steve stared at Sam "The Korean war, you and dad fought in Korea?"
"We didnít fight there, Steve. We served as doctors". Sam stared back at Steve "Mark never told you?"
"No, he never did, how long you're you there?"
"The entire period of the war, 4 years". Sam didn't understand why Mark never told Steve.
"So it's mean that I was about 4 years old when he came back" Steve told Sam, " I know that I was young but I don't remember missing him".
"Steve, it all depends on what your mother told you of where your father was" said Sam.
Steve shook his head " I don't get it, going to 2 wars, didnít you see enough actions the first time?"
At that, Sam's only answer was "We had our reasons".
Mark left the room and walked to the phone.
"Mark, where are you going?" asked Jesse.
"I've got to make a phone call, I have to make sure of something".
"But Mr. Miller's waiting for you, Mark".
"Ohh, I've forgot about him. Look Jesse, I'm going to see Miller now, page me in 5 min".
"OK, sure Mark".
Mr. Miller was waiting impatiently for Mark, when the door opened and saw Mark.
"It's about time" he said.
"Now let's see, what is your problem today?" Mark said.
Mr. Miller was shocked at the way Mark asked the question.
"I'm sorry, I didnít mean to asked you the question that way" and to himself "yes I did".
He was about to say something else when his pager beeped, he looked at it "I'll be right back".
Mark went directly to the phone and said "thanks Jesse", then dialed Sam's number. He let the phone ring at least 6 times "Come on Sam, answer", then hung the phone.
He knew that Sam was the only one who could help him.
Jesse stood beside him "Mark what's going on?"
"It's too long to explained Jesse".
Then behind them, they heard Mr Miller "Oh, there you are, I donít have time to wait
all day, you know?"
"I'm sorry Sir, but you'll have to come back another day or do you prefer having another doctor seeing you?" ask Mark.
"Well, we'll see about that..."
"Good day Mr. Miller" said Mark, then waited for Miller to leave.
He looked at Jesse, who had is mouth open with an ( I donít believe it) look on his face, for what Mark said.
Just then Steve and Sam arrived.
"Sam what are you going here?" Mark said surprised, "But never mind I have to talk to you".
"So do I" answered Sam.
Mark went to see his schedule and saw that he had nothing urgent for at least half an hour, then he said "Come with me".
As they left, Jesse followed them but Mark stopped him "No Jesse, not you".
Jesse looked at them leaving, he too wanted to know what was going on with Mark.
They went to the same room that Mark had slept in, once inside Steve said "Dad I brought Sam here, I was worried about you".
Mark urgently said "Sam, do you remember when..." then stopped and looked at Steve.
"He knows Mark, Iíve told him" said Sam.
Mark was surprised "Youíve told him everything?"
"No, only when and where".
Mark was quiet for a moment, then looked back at Sam "Do you remember back then, someone telling me", he closed his eyes "You better be back for me, 'cause if you don't and leave me behind..."
Sam finish for Mark "I'll be looking for you wherever you are and you'll pay for this".
"Mark, how could I forget something like that and with what Steve told me, I knew it had to be him". Then Sam stared at Mark "It's him, right?"
Mark nodded but looked at Steve "What did you tell Sam?"
" I told him about your dreams dad, and I want to understand what the words you said meant".
Mark didn't know what Steve was talking about "What words?"
"You said in your dreams "I'm sorry, I tried to come back, I didn't mean to leave you behind, I did everything I could to help. You also called Sam's name and Jimmy. You talked about dead people and explosion".
" I really say all that?"
Steve nodded and hesitated "Did you really left someone behind?"
Mark lowered his head and fell silent.
Sam answered for Mark "We had no choice Steve, we're lucky that we came back alive" he answered a bit too hard.
Steve lifted his hands "Hey wait, I'm not judging anybody here, I'm sorry if I asked".
"Well, what kind of question was that then?" Sam asked him back.
"Stop" yelled Mark and stood between them "That's enough".
They looked at him, surprised by his tone of voice.
Mark looked at Sam " I can answer by myself, Sam", then he turned to Steve "And I've told you that if I find what's causing those dreams, I would tell you".
"You found out?" Steve asked, "Is it the man who said those words to you?"
"Yes, his name is Paul but I don't know his last name". Mark looked at both "I've seen him here twice in the past few day".
"Did he said anything to you dad?"
"No he just stood there and looking at me".
Later that day, Paul was at a dock yard, where they bring ships that are meant for scraps, and made a friend with the guard, so he could have access to the place. He was looking inside every ship, then found one that suited him. He went through all the cabins and floors, but it was the bottom of the ship that interest him. "Oh! this is perfect, it's dark, humid and creepy, I'm sure you're gonna love this place Sloan".
Back in the hospital room, "The words that Paul said to me at the beginning of the dream were different than those he said at the end" Mark said.
"Dreams have a tendency of distorting things until all the pieces fall in the right place" offered Sam, "It's probably when you first saw him that you only remember parts of what he said and when you went through the entire dream, you remembered exactly what he told you".
"Yes, you're right, but what does he want from me?"
Steve looked at both of them "If you two agree with what he said, it's mean that he's coming after you dad".
"Would he carry a grudge for so many years?" Mark asked, "More then 40 years?"
"Some do, you'll need protection dad" Steve told him.
"Steve, he hasn't done anything yet and he saw me twice" Mark told him, "If he really wants to hurt me, he would have done it by now".
"Well, I won't wait until he does".
"Steve" Mark insisted, "the only threat he made was 40 years ago and thatís only from what Sam and I told you. Do you really think that your Captain's gonna gave me police protection with just that information?"
Steve nodded " I know dad, we don't have his last name, we don't know where he lives and like you said, he saw you here but didn't do anything" Steve stared at his father, "But that won't stopped me from keeping an eye on you".
"Steve" Mark said seriously, "I'm not gonna hide at home, I've got work to do here".
"OK, I 'll be here with you then" and before Mark could say anything, Steve added " I took the day off anyway".
Mark knew that he couldn't change Steve mind. "Well Sam, what do you want to do, you want to stay here or go to my house?"
"I'll stay and wait for the two of you".
So Mark went on to his regular work with Steve not far behind, while Sam wandered in the hospital looking here and there.
While Mark saw a patient, Steve waited outside the room. When Jesse saw him, he walked to Steve. "So Steve, were you right about WW2?"
"No Jess, it was during the war alright but the Korean war".
"The Korean war" repeated Jesse, "But what..." he stopped when he saw Mark coming out from the room.
"Talked to you later Jesse" Steve told him and left with Mark.
"Sure Steve" Jesse said and turned the opposite direction, when he saw someone walking the corridor, towards him.
"Hey, you're Sam McGuire aren't you, Mark's personal physician?" Jesse said.
Sam looked at him surprised "Yes I am, and who might you be?"
"My name's Jesse Travis" as he shook his hand, "I've heard so much about you".
"Oh yes, I've heard a lot about you too from Mark" he said smiling.
Jesse looked at Sam, not knowing if it was a compliment or not but decided to asked some questions anyway, "There's something I would like to know" Jesse said, looking around, making sure Mark wasn't close by. "I've heard that you and Mark did some wild things when you were young, can you tell me any of them?"
Mark looked at his watch yawning, is was almost 4 PM "That's it for me today, let's go home", then asked Steve " I wonder where Sam is?"
Steve was gonna answer, when he saw Jesse and Sam walking toward them laughing, all he could say was "Oh no".
"You've finished Mark?" ask Sam.
"Yes and not a moment too soon, I hope you didnít find the day to long?" Mark noticed Jesse smiling.
"No, I had a long conversation with your young friend here" pointing to Jesse who was still smiling.
"Jesse, what's so funny?" Mark asked him.
"Sam told me some very funny stories".
Steve was looking at Jesse very seriously "Hmm Jesse, can I talk to you please?"
"Not now Steve".
Steve approached Jesse, putting his arm around his shoulder and forced him to walk and whispered "Yes now".
Steve looked at Mark and Sam and said "We'll be right back".
When they were far enough "Jesse, this is a bad time, donít start with the stories, the situation is too serious at the moment".
"What do you mean Steve?"
"Well there's a man wondering around, looking for dad and we don't know his intention yet. All we know so far is that he's very angry at dad for something that happened a long time ago and that's all I can tell you because that's all I know about it".
"Oh you mean when Mark was in Korea?" Jesse asked, "Do you have his name?"
Steve nodded "Yes for both questions and his name is Paul, that's all we have. So please don't talk about the stories for the time being."
When they arrived home, Steve got out of his car and waited for his dad and Sam, Mark parked his car beside Steve and both got out, then walked to the door. Steve saw a package and read what was written on it, it came from a Book Store that his dad usually go, so he just give it to him.
"What, an other one?" said Mark.
They all went inside.
"Make yourself comfortable Sam" said Mark, "I'll change clothes" then he put the package on the computer desk.
"Dad" yelled Steve, "what's for dinner?"
"Anything but pizza" yelled back Mark.
A moment later, Mark came back "So" he said, "have you decided what to eat?"
"No" said Steve.
"OK, it will be meatloaf then"
"Dad, can you come in the livingroom and sit down please?" asked Steve, and asked Sam the same thing.
Mark knew what Steve's wanted. Once they were all sitting "You want to know what exactly happened back then, right?"
"Yes dad, I would like that very much".
" I don't remember everything, there's some parts missing" said Mark reluctantly.
"I'll fill in those parts" offered Sam, "Mark, your son has a right to know".
"Dad please, I want to help you but I have to know why he's angry at you and what happened back then".
Mark nodded and agreed "Well I've promised you that I would tell you everything, once I found the reason why". He lowered his head a moment, then looked at Steve and started telling him about that infamous night.
"Sam and I were asked to help a soldier retrieve his comrades that were left behind during an attack. When we got there, instead of 3 soldiers there were 9, he lied to us. I guess it was the only way he could convince someone to help him, I'm sure that if he had told us in the beginning that there were 9 soldiers, we would have refused. So we devised a plan on how to get them back to camp". Mark told Steve everything that he could remember.
From there, Sam continue the story,
We were walking quietly through the woods, Jimmy in the lead with the 5 injured men and a bit behind, Mark and I carrying our men when all hell broke loose; one bomb exploded in front of Jimmy's group, killing all 6 of them. Mark and I were thrown backward on the ground. Dazzled and disoriented by the explosion, I was the only one left conscious. I was lying on my stomach and stayed down, so I looked around only to find that where Jimmy and his group were, now stood a big hole. Their bodies had been shredded to pieces, then I looked behind me and saw Mark and the 2 injured soldiers lying unconscious. Slowly I crawled on my stomach to the injured men and observed that their wounds had not been aggravated by the explosion. It appears that Mark and I acted as a shield in protecting them from further damages. I crawled to Mark, who was lying on his back, felt his pulse and was relieve to find one. But it was hard to know if he was injured because we were all covered with blood, blood of the men we were carrying and blood from the soldiers in front of us. I stopped for a moment and realized that we could use the hole caused by the explosion as a hiding place, once it's cool down.
Mark stood up, walked to the window and looked outside.
Steve followed his dad with is eyes. "You're OK dad?"
Mark nodded. He saw himself in Sam's story, remembering the parts that he could.
Sam to continued,
Slowly and painfully, I started to dragged the injured men in the hole.
Mark was the last one I pulled in. Now that I felt a bit safer, I started to examine Mark more thoroughly. I opened his shirt and discovered that he had a piece of metal protruding from his right side. If I'd known he had that injury in the beginning, I wouldn't have moved him. But now it was too late, all I could do for the moment was to try and stop the bleeding. Then decided to check myself and I was surprise to find that I only suffered scratches and bruises.
"So, that's how you injured yourself" Steve said looking at his father.
Mark put his hand on the right side of his back "The back pain and seeing Paul face's, cause the dreams to come back" he said.
Sam looked at Mark, but decided to continue,
Slowly, as Mark was awakening, he felt a sharp pain from his right side.
"Mark don't move" I told him, "you have a piece of metal in your side."
"And nice to see you too Sam" he told me.
Sam stopped and looked at Steve "Your father always had a good sense of humor no matter what".
"What happened Sam? all I remember is an explosion."
"Yea there was an explosion and there's 6 death including Jimmy. For the time being will stay here, but Mark what are we gonna do, I can't remember the way back to the camp"
Sam looked at Steve "With your father's condition, I really thought that we were lost. But once again, he came through".
"He always did" Steve said still looking at his father.
Mark looked me in the eyes: "Everything will be alright Sam, don't worry. Did I ever lie to you before?"
I looked at Mark "No, you haven't, so what are we gonna do now?"
Without turning, Mark said "I've remember saying those exact words to young soldiers and looked what happened to them".
"Mark" said Sam, "do you want me to stop?"
"No go ahead, I'll start preparing dinner" then left.
"Steve, you want the rest of the story?" Sam asked.
"Yes, please go on".
"Now let me try to sit up" Mark told me.
"Mark don't do that" I begged him.
"Sam I have to, I don't want to stay here more than we have and I'm sure you don't want either, so help me".
As soon as he sat up, he felt so much pain that it almost made him pass out. I had a good grip on him. "Mark this is crazy, you're doing yourself more damage this way and how far do you think you'll go like this".
"With your help, will go as far as the camp" said Mark still shacking from the pain. "Now, I want you to bandage this wound for me, or I'll do it myself".
"OK OK I'll do it, but Mark what about the other two men, I'll carry one but you can't".
Mark left the kitchen and went to his room, he couldn't hear the rest of the story anymore.
Steve got up but Sam stopped him "Steve wait, you have to understand, Mark refused to tell anyone or talked to anybody about what happened back then, not even to me when I asked him."
Steve sat down "Why didn't he?"
Sam shook his head " I donít know Steve, your father always finds a way to push the subject back. I've tried to make him talk to me when he started having dreams about this, but he always said 'Not now Sam, later'. It was always the same answer every time I would asked him".
Steve look in the direction of his father's bedroom "So he had those dreams before?"
"Yes he did. That's why I wanted him to tell me about them. He had to let it go, but..."
Sam got up and walked to the kitchen, Steve followed him.
"After the war, he went back to your mom and you, then later Carol was born. And there was his work at the hospital and working as a consultant with the police. So you see Steve, your dad always had something to keep his mind busy, it's the only way he could escape the questioning and the explanation". Sam understood now why Mark never told his son " I think that's why he never told you, Steve".
Steve understood "It would bring this back, which he didn't want to" he nodded "But Sam how could someone keep a secret that long without going crazy. When I came back from Nam, I had terrible dreams but dad was there to help me. He forced me to talk to him, telling him what happened and I felted better after".
" I know Steve, I know. It looks like for your dad it's different, it took his back pain and that man to bring everything back".
"Sam, did you had dreams to?" Steve asked.
Sam shook his head " I rather not tell you why, or you'll think I'm crazy".
Steve was more serious now "I'd really like to know, what is the intention of Paul".
Sam was afraid to even think about it "I'll prepare the dinner, go and see your dad now".
In his room Mark was sitting on his bed, holding a small black box in his hands. He had tears running down his face, when he heard a knock on his door.
"Come in Steve" Mark was wiping his tears when Steve came in.
"You OK", then sat beside his dad. " I know it's hard to talk about it, I went through the same thing when I came back from Vietnam. You were there to help me, you made me talk about it even if I tried to hide it, it took time but I felt better afterward. Then Steve saw the small box that his dad was holding and he was gonna asked him what it was, when... !BOOM!.