Sally enters the hospital room to find Cliff seated next to the bed holding his wife's hand. She is wearing an oxygen mask. Sally kisses Cliff on the cheek and whispers, "Is Mom going to be all right?"
“She’s sleeping now, but the doctor says she’ll be ok in a day or two.”
“I thought she was in a coma.”
“She was until early this morning. She woke up for a minute, then went to sleep."
“She looks so pale. I’m frightened.”
“Try not to worry, Sal. The doctor said it would be a few more hours before she
“Aren’t you scared, maybe a little bit?”
“I was damn scared for awhile, and mad too--mad because she would do such a dumb thing.”
“Well, Dad, unhappy people do dumb things. I just hope she’s going to be her old self again. Mom was full of life before I moved away.”
“It’s obvious she can’t live alone,” says Cliff.
“What are we going to do about it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Maybe if I move back here she won’t be so lonely.”
“What about Princeton?”
“I can find a California college that I like, one that’s close enough to go home on weekends. Like Berkeley or Stanford."
“That doesn’t seem fair to you, Sal.”
“Do you have a better idea?”
Cliff slowly shakes his head and continues to hold Jane’s hand. “I can’t make any decision until your mother is well again. Then the three of us can talk.”
Sally leans over and hugs her father. “Are you prepared to give up Marie?”
“I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
Sally moves near the bed and kisses Jane on the forehead. “Mom,“ she says in tears, “can you hear me? It’s Sally. Please, Mom, open your eyes.”
Jane remains in a deep sleep.
“Give her some time, Sal. She’ll wake up.”
“But she looks so helpless. I want her to open her eyes and see that she is not alone, that people are here who love her.”
“Yes,” says Cliff as he squeezes her hand. “I keep thinking of the early days when she was so happy, so carefree, so confident. Somehow, I changed all that. I’m the reason your mother is lying here, like a child trying to suck life out of that tube."
“No, Dad, you’re not the one who put her in that bed. She managed that on her own. I decided when I was with Judd’s family in Lexington that you can’t let other people tell you how to live your life.”
“Thanks, Sal. We’ll talk about Lexington when this horror is over.” Cliff releases Jane’s hand and stands up. “I’ll leave you here with your mother while I go outside for some air. Ok?”
“Yes, Dad, you’ve earned a break?”
“I wonder.” Cliff kisses his wife on the cheek and leaves the room.
Cliff walks down the hospital corridor, takes and elevator to the main floor, leaves the building and strolls to the parking lot. There he gets into his rented Buick and drives to his nearby motel. He pours himself a scotch over ice, picks up the telephone, and calls Marie in her Cincinnati office.
“Hi, Sweetheart. You busy?”
“No, I’ve been waiting for your call. How’s Jane?”
“The doctor says she’ll make it. She’s sleeping right now.”
“Is Sally with her?”
“How’s she doing? Does she blame me for this?”
“No. She blames it on Jane’s fear of being left alone.”
“That sounds to me like she’s trying to get you and Jane back together.”
“Perhaps. I told her we’d talk about it when Jane is well again.”
“Talk about what?”
“What to do about Jane. She can no longer live alone. Sally suggested she forget about Princeton and move back here.”
“Like I said. That’s a ploy to get you involved. Would you be willing to have Jane move in with you in Cincinnati?”
“Why would I do that?”
“Because you’d never give up your business and move out there.”
“There’s one more thing I wouldn’t give up: You.”
For more than three hours, Sally, in tears, has been at Jane's bedside begging her mother to wake up. The nurse's request to take a short break intensifies her determination to be there when Jane finally opens her eyes.
“Mom, please wake up so that you can greet Dad when he returns. He sat here with you all night. He loves you, Mom. Wouldn’t it be grand if the three of us were to be together again? You and me and Dad. Can you hear me, Mom? You and me and Dad. I know how lonely you’ve been since Grandma died. And it didn’t help that I moved to Cincinnati--at your insistence, of course, because you thought Dad needed somebody. You were right, Mom. Dad needed you. And still does. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for you. Nothing.”
“Sal, don’t be rash.” says Cliff as he returns to the room. “Please don’t try to orchestrate my life. I said that we would make plans for the future when the three of us could sit down and talk about it.”
“I know, Dad, but what I’m trying to do now is break through to Mom, to make her
see that things aren’t as grim as she thought they were. Is that wrong?”
“Only if you make false promises.”
“Dad, don’t you want Mom to get well? Don’t you want to make her happy?”
“Of course, but I don’t want to make matters worse by lying to your mother. What about Marie? How do you think she’d feel if we told her the wedding is off because I’m going back to my wife? How do you think I’d feel? I love Marie. Don’t you think I have a right to be happy?
“Yes, but can you be happy knowing that Mom can no longer live alone?”
“Let’s talk about it after she wakes up.” Cliff moves close to the bed and whispers to his wife. “You can wake up now. Jane, everything is going to be all right.”
Jane stirs and finally opens her eyes, struggles to remove the oxygen mask.
“Cliff?" she whispers, now free of the mask. "Is that…you? Where am I?”
"Yes, Jane, it’s me. You’re in the hospital. And Sally is here too.”
“Why am I here? What happened?” She closes her eyes.
Cliff shakes her gently. “Don’t close your eyes, Jane. You’ve been sleeping for hours.”
He turns to his daughter. “Sally, you talk to her. Tell her everything’s ok.”
As Cliff pushes the button for the nurse, Sally takes her mothers hand. “Please don’t go back to sleep, Mom. The doctor says you’re going to be all right. He says that as soon as you can get out of bed, you can go home.”
In a distant voice, Jane says, “I don’t want to go home. I don’t want to be alone.”
“You won’t be alone anymore. I’ll be with you, and Dad says--”
“Be careful, Sal,” says Cliff.”
“Your Dad says what?”
Cliff kisses Jane on the cheek. “He says you’ll never be alone again.”
For the first time, Jane tries to sit up.
“I mean you’ll never be alone again. Sally is coming back to California.”
“Oh.” Jane’s head drops to the pillow again. “I thought you meant we’d be a family again.”
“We’ll always be a family, Jane.”
“What you’re really saying is that you’re going back to Cincinnati. You’re going back to…that woman.”
“We’ll talk about it later, when you’re feeling better.”
Jane sits up again when the nurse enters the room.
“Wonderful! It’s good to see you awake, Mrs. Walker. I’ll get the doctor.”
“That’s the first time anyone has called me Mrs. Walker in years. Please don’t leave me, Cliff.”
“Jane, I’m not going anywhere until you’re well again.”
“Well? Am I sick? What’s wrong with me?”
“Nothing is wrong with you, Mom. You just had a long rest.”
The doctor enters the room. “That’s right, Jane. In a few days, you’ll be home." He turns to Cliff. “I think you and Sally should leave for awhile so that I can examine your wife.”
“No, Cliff,” says Jane. “Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.”
“Dad’s not leaving you, Mom. We’ll be right outside the door.”
“Yes, Mom, I promise that you’ll never be alone again.”
“Cliff, don’t I get a kiss?”
He kisses her lightly on the lips and says, “Welcome back.”
Cliff and Sally leave the room. Outside they can hear Jane say, “Oh, I’m all right now, doctor. We’re a family again.”
In he hall, Cliff is greeted by a nurse. “Mr. Walker, you have a phone call at the nurse’s station, from New York.”
“Thanks,” says Cliff and walks hurriedly to the phone. “Hello, Lew.”
“Yeah. How’s Jane?”
“She’s going to be ok.”
“That’s great news! Now, for the bad news. The police picked up Jack.”
“In Cincinnati. He was trying to break into your house.”
“Is the kid all right? Is his father with him?"
“No, Matt is still unable to function and Art’s on the way up. But it looks bad.”
“I think Jack’s going to spend some time behind bars. He robbed a small
convenience store somewhere in New Jersey--roughed up the clerk.”
“Damn. When did he turn robber?“
“When he ran out of money.”
“I hope Art’s taking a good lawyer with him.”
“I think the kid will need a Clarence Darrow.”
“I think he’s dead.”
“Ok, you think of somebody.”
”How about Perry Mason?”