Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 54
One Year Later…
“…wake up, Sam! Wake up!”
Sam opened his eyes and looked into Girlfriend’s beaming face. “They’re here Sam! They’re here!”
Sam rolled out of bed and ran a hand over his smooth scalp. Ever since they’d gotten back, Girlfriend had made sure he’d kept it shaven. He picked up his prosthetic right arm and latched it into place. He had two, one with a claw that he used while working so he could hold things – the claw he could open and close and worked quite well for holding the paint can when he repainted the Paradise Palms sign – and one he used for things such as this; meeting Girlfriend’s parents for the first time.
“Just let me splash a little water on my face. I’ll be just a second.”
“Just hurry up. I can’t wait for you to meet them.”
Girlfriend ran from the room and out the front door. The screen door slammed and Blue barked loudly as the motor of the RV died.
Sam washed his face and took a moment to gargle some mouthwash. The reddish scars on his shoulder and chest still had a lingering pain that reminded Sam every day what he’d been through. Girlfriend had never told her parents what had happened or what they’d all gone through. She talked little of it. In a morphine daze in the hospital when he came around for the first time, he’d asked her to marry him. Apparently he asked her every time he came around. And every time she said yes, but he didn’t remember any of that. He just remembered pain.
They had to take much of his right arm off due to a massive infection he’d gotten, but Doc Brenner and Clive took care of all the bills, and made sure he’d gotten the best treatment and artificial limbs. Sam didn’t know anything about all of that until he was out of the hospital and back home. The first time he woke in his own bed felt like the first time in sixty-five-million years.
Clive had apparently recovered from the madness he suffered. He spent several weeks in the hospital recovering from his time in the past. A combination of isolation and guilt thinking he was responsible for the deaths of the dinosaurs he had been observing. He’d apologized many times for his behavior and for putting them all at risk to come and save him.
Sam pulled on a shirt and a pair of shorts and went outside after Girlfriend. Her parents were both plump, but not fat, and were gray haired. Her father, who had longer hair than her mother, wore a Minnesota Twins ball cap. He smiled and moved toward Sam, hand outstretched.
“Such a pleasure it is to be meeting you.” His thick Russian accent took Sam aback. He had always thought they’d talk the same as Girlfriend. He moved his shoulder for his right hand to extend. Girlfriend’s father took the hand gently and looked at it. “She had tell us you lost arm, but she not tell us why. Perhaps we can get you to tell us story, no?”
“I’m sure we’ll have a lot of time for stories,” Sam said with a smile, wishing he could shake his hand instead of just hold it out.
“Yes. We will have much time to share stories. We even find spot here in park for RV. Only two months to plan a wedding. The girls will be quite busy. Perhaps you can show me fishing?”
“I think that sounds like a great plan.”
“Very good, very good. Come meet missus.”
Sam held out his hand to Girlfriend’s mom only to be pulled in by her massive arms and hugged like never before. “I thank you. My daughter tell me nothing, but she say you save her life. I want look forward you tell me about it. I should hear it all.”
“Mom, you’re making a big deal out of it. Really.”
“He lose arm. How not big deal? If we not get held up in customs going from country to country, I be here sooner.”
“Oh mom, you could’ve taken a flight.”
“And leave your father? No no.”
Girlfriend took her mother’s arm and took her inside. They continued their conversation as they walked.
“She tell us you are good man, Sam. I know my baby girl. I trust her. You must be good man.”
Sam didn’t know what to say, so he just smiled.
“Let us walk for a bit. Such long drive I have need stretch legs.”
They walked through the park in silence. Girlfriend’s father did stretch his legs, his arms, his back. Sam gave a small chuckle.
Lin and Tiger Lily walked up, arm in arm. Lin said, “I thought I heard a different motor.”
“Don’t lie,” Tiger Lily snapped. “You’ve been doing nothing but playing poker and watching the monitors for the past two days.” To Sam she said, “I swear, ever since she found out that Girlfriend’s parents would be in town soon she’s been glued to that chair waiting and watching.”
“Hey, I did win a couple nice tourneys.”
“Yeah, like you really need the money.”
“It’s about the competition.”
Sam laughed. “Girls, meet Mr. Sokolov. Girlfriend’s father. Mr. Sokolov, this is Lin Pza Pza and her partner, Tiger Lily Smith. Girlfriend and her mother are inside if you wanted to go and meet her. I’m sure they’d love more company.”
“My wife, she does love to talk. She can have entire conversation while I drive and I say nothing. Perfect it is. Please, go join them. Pleasure it is meeting you. Girlfriend has told me much about you.”
Both of them gave Mr. Sokolov hugs. Lin said to Sam, “Oh, Julio should be back at any time. If you see him, let him know there’s only one more trip left and that’s everything.”
Sam nodded. “I’ll let him know.”
Lin and Tiger Lily walked off to his trailer. They’d given up the government contract. Well, not given it up completely, just the work involved. Lin had found a sub-contractor to take over the maintenance of the servers. She’d asked Sam if he could redo her basement to make it a normal living space, but he looked at his arm and had told her he’d find someone trustworthy to do the job. He hated to see her pout, but he was no longer in any condition to perform those kinds of jobs.
“…and that is when I tell her ‘I don’t think that’s a bathroom'” Mr. Sokolov laughed heartily and patted Sam on the back. “We have so much fun in country where we speak bad English and so do the rest of the people. It is very funny.”
“I’m sure you must’ve had a great time.”
“Sam! Sam!” Clive Brenner strode up the road. Sam and Mr. Sokolov stopped. Clive held out a hand. “You must be Girlfriend’s father. Pleasure to meet. Truly a pleasure.”
“How are you, Clive?” Sam asked. He liked seeing Clive, but never felt comfortable. He almost felt as if he should be in their debt for all the bills they had to pay for him. Every bill he had was paid and paid in full from his medical bills to his trailer, everything had been taken care of. It was far more than they needed to do. At least Clive no longer appeared stark-raving mad.
“Wonderful, wonderful. I have some great news. Great news indeed. I was poring over my data last night. Fascinating. Truly fascinating. I would have never thought… I’m getting sidetracked. I’m sorry, too much work, not enough sleep, too much coffee. But I decided to take a break, and I found it.”
“A massive metal signature. I knew it would have been moved, perhaps even several times, but I found it. I’ve got someone digging there now.”
Sam shook his head. What was Clive getting at?
“The loader Sam! The loader! It was parked on top of the T. rex that had eaten Myra. Lin and Tiger Lily told me all about that tragic event, but I thought I could do something. I figured it would take three hundred years or better for the front loader to fully break down, but it would leave a very unique metal signature because the metals it was made out of wouldn’t be present in this area. Given the years and the movement of the land through normal shifts and the Ice Ages…”
“Wait a minute. You mean you found her?”
“I found her, Sam. I found her.”
“Who is it you are finding?”
Sam’s eyes welled up. “An old friend.”
“I will recover everything I can. Sam, by your wedding day, I promise you and I promise Girlfriend, she’ll be put where she belongs. My gift to you and Girlfriend.”
Sam put his left hand on Clive’s shoulder. “Thank you. Girlfriend will be so happy to hear that. I’m sure Lin and Tiger Lily will also be pleased.”
“It’s the least I could do for Myra. I’ve already contacted her old boss and he’s preparing a spot for her in the museum. He’s been most impressed with the quantity of data I’ve been able to produce from the satellite we have back there. I’m not sure I ever want to go back, but we can still collect data. Sending remotes and drones is doing more than enough work for now.”
“I think that’s for the best. Mr. Sokolov…”
“Please, `Dmitri’. You make me feel old you call me mister. You call me Dmitri or you call me Dima. None of this mister.”
“Dmitri, would you like to join Clive and me at the Sandy Bar? While the girls catch up in the trailer, we can all have a seat and a drink.”
“Are they having vodka?”
“They’ve got anything you want.”
“Then I say we go there and be drinking vodka.”
Sam chuckled. He didn’t drink, but with his new father-in-law to be, perhaps he’d have one. Just one.