Keeping The Heart In Shape

 One weekend, long ago, DS and I took a weekend trip. It was before the kids so traveling was much easier. We also had to travel much cheaper back then and ended up staying at a motel similar to Motel 6’s quality. In the middle of the night, there was a big BOOM, BOOM, BOOM on the door to our motel room. This woke us both up immediately and I went to the window to see who it was. It was just some drunk passing by that had nothing better to do than to knock on all the doors. Still startled and a little pissed, I turned around to tell DS what I had concluded after looking out the window. Where did he go? It’s not like we were at the Ritz- there was only the beds and the bathroom. So I checked the bathroom and sure enough I found him.

“What are you doing?”

“I came in here when the noise started.”

He went in and hid in the bathroom. Of course when I looked devastated he tried to cover it up by saying that he didn’t want to answer the door in his pajama’s.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how the next 20 years played out.

When our second child was about three, he swallowed some stringy cheese pizza. He started to gag. DS was sitting next to him at the table but I heard the shouts from the other room.

DS yelled with great urgency. “He’s choking. He’s choking. Get in here.”

Of course I couldn’t get there fast enough and when I reached the child, I stuck my finger in his mouth and simple pulled the cheese out. DS was still sitting at the table and rambling.

“Oh, I didn’t know what to do. I was thinking I’d call 911 but you got here so quick.”

“It’s okay,” I said to DS “He’s fine and for the record he wasn’t choking he was gagging.” Meanwhile my adrenaline was still up to the roof because for the split second that had passed I thought my son was choking. As I started to crash, I asked DS why he was going to call 911. He knew he wasn’t allowed to call 911 anymore.

The summer before this, DS called 911 one too many times. The first time, he was home with the kids and when he walked down the hallway he heard a zzzp- zzzp. He called 911 and told them, it’s not an emergency or anything but I hear electricity zipping in the wall. The dispatcher told him to take the kids outside and they would be there soon. DS followed the directions and went outside with the kids and started to play on the swing set. Pretty soon there were sirens getting closer and closer. DS told me later he had heard them but didn’t think much of it because he had told the dispatcher he didn’t have an emergency.

I drove onto our street just in time to see the fire engine lights and three fire trucks pull up in front of our house. I pulled up to the house and ran up to see what was going on. The firemen in all their gear, axes and oxygen tanks were just going inside. I noticed DS and the kids coming from the backyard.

“What’s going on?” I asked as I counted kids and fingers and toes.

DS told me about the noise and then it was a couple of minutes before one of the firemen came outside to tell us that the noise was the window air conditioner vibrating and not electricity zipping through the walls.

He also called 911 when in the middle of the night the motion detector bugler alarm he bought at Walgreen’s was going off. When the alarm went off DS reached for the phone and the dispatcher told DS the police were on the way and then asked DS if he heard any movement or anything.

“No, all I can hear is the alarm.”

“Can you shut the alarm off?”

“I’m not going out there.”

“Is there anyone else in the house with you?”

“Yes, my wife and kids.”

“Did any of them accidentally set off the alarm?”

“No, they’re all right here.”

“Okay, the police officers are at your house now. Stay on the phone with me and keep your wife and kids with you while the officers look around your house.”

The dispatcher let DS know that the officers were coming to the door. DS opened the door while I turned the loud, high -pitched, screaming alarm off. The officers came in and looked around and after they found nothing they looked at the security system.

One of them started asking DS questions. “Where’d you buy this?”

“Walgreens.”

“When did you but it?”

“Last winter.”

“What’s this thing run on?”

“Batteries.”

“When’s the last time you changed them?”

Yep, the batteries.

And although he didn’t call 911 the night I was gone on a business trip, he still isn’t allowed to ever tell me about a noise he heard again because it’s the time I almost called 911. I had called home to tell everyone good-night. DS had all the kids in our front room with him and when I finished talking to the last kid, DS got on the phone and said that while I was talking to them he had heard a sound under the front window like something scratching at the screen. Knowing him, I told him not to panic and peek through the curtain to see if he can see anything. As he was doing that he said, “Did you hear that?”

I hadn’t heard anything except his breathing so I said, “No.”

“You didn’t hear that? It sounded like someone picked up the other phone and then hung it up again.”

The other phone was in the kitchen so I told him to go look and see if he could see anything. As he peered around the corner something moved and he screamed and then everything was quiet.

“What is it?” I asked.

Nothing.

“What the hell is it?!!” I asked with more urgency

Nothing.

“Are you okay?!!!”

Nothing.

“TALK TO ME. ARE YOU OKAY?”

“DS?”

“DS?”

Finally he answered, “I’m okay.”

“WHAT’S GOING ON?” I shouted.

“It’s okay. I think it was the cat.”

The rose bushes under the window were making the scratching sound and when he looked out the window he hit the cordless phone antenna. It made the noise that sounded like the phone was being picked up and when he looked into the kitchen he saw something move. He had stopped talking because he had stopped breathing. The cat jumped off the counter and went into the front room with DS and the kids.

There I sat miles away, unable to sleep, plotting my hero’s demise.

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