The next day, Steve wanted to go into the office where he worked to hand over the papers he found in his briefcase. He also wanted to take a look around, thinking that the familiarity of his workplace may trigger more memories. So Linda drove him to his office.
"Do you want me to come in?" she asked.
"No, that's ok. I won't be but a minute or two. I just want to drop these papers off. They've probably been missing them for a long time." Steve said.
"Ok I'll wait here for you." she said.
Steve put the briefcase on his lap and rolled into the office building. "Good morning, Steve. Nice to have you back." the receptionist said.
"Well, I'm not really back yet. I just wanted to drop this off here. Is Jenkins in his office?"
"Yes, he is."
"I'm sorry, forgive my asking but what is your name." Steve asked the receptionist.
"I'm Kimberly Evans, Mr. Williams, remember?"
"Sadly no. The accident, you know."
"Yes, of course. I'm sorry. Should I buzz Mr. Jenkins?"
"No, that's ok. Just tell me how to find his office. I want to have a look around anyway."
"Sure. His office is the third door on the left. Your office is right across the hall from him."
"Ok thanks, Kim." Steve said. The receptionist smiled and went back to her work. Steve wheeled himself back towards his office. He peeked into the rooms as he passed them. On his right was a larger conference room with a big 12' long table and a dozen chairs around it with a small podium at one end. The room across the hall was obviously a break room with a sink, lunch table, a microwave and a refrigerator. Down the hall next came a couple of offices for other advertising agents. In one of them someone talking on the phone waved as Steve went past. The next room was Mr. Jenkins and as Steve came to the door, he knocked.
"Come in." came the answer from behind the door. Steve entered the office and found his boss behind the desk doing something on his computer.
"Steve! Great to see you! How are you doing?" Mr. Jenkins said, rising to his feet.
"I'm getting better. I brought this - thought you might need some of this paperwork." Steve said, handing the briefcase to his boss.
"It's my briefcase, I guess. The State Police found it in the car and finally brought it back. I don't know what all is in it, but I figured you would."
"Let's have a look." Mr. Jenkins said opening the briefcase. He rifled through the papers inside and after a few minutes closed it back up. "Yes there was some stuff in there pertaining to the account you was working on in Chicago, but in your accident, we lost all the paperwork. We got in touch with the client though, and resubmitted everything and so all this is just duplicate now - we don't really need it, but thanks for bringing it by. It's great to see you here in the office again, even if it is just for a visit. Can I get you a cup of coffee?"
"No thanks, I have Linda downstairs waiting in the car for me. I just wanted to take a quick look around and see if anything came back."
"I see. And did it?"
"Not here, but I did have a small breakthrough at the house yesterday. When the police brought the briefcase by, there was some other stuff with it. One of the things was a necklace I had bought for Linda. I remembered it and a few other things from Chicago when I saw the necklace." Steve explained.
"That's great news, Steve!"
"Yeah, I have an appointment in a couple of days to see a psychologist who thinks that hypnotherapy might help me remember more."
"Well whatever it takes, Steve. You just do whatever is necessary to get back to normal. Our insurance is top-notch and we'll deal with all that when you get back."
"Ok, thanks." Steve said. "Well, I'll let you get back to work. I'm just going to look around a bit more."
"Ok, Steve, sounds good. Just call if you need anything."
"I will." Steve said turning to leave. "Oh, one more thing. You mentioned something about a vacation when you came over a few days ago. What was that all about?"
"Well," Mr. Jenkins started "Once you had landed the advertising contract with H&G Trucking, the client in Chicago, I told you that the company was going to give you two weeks vacation. And because I know you had been busting your butt on getting this contract, and the toll I'm sure your late hours and hard work had been on Linda and the kids, I told you that we were springing for the hotel and travel costs, so you four could enjoy yourselves. You told me you were planning on taking the kids to Disneyland and Los Angeles. Are you still doing that?"
"Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. I just couldn't remember what that was all about. I'd still like to do that if the offer still stands."
"It sure does, Steve, but like I said, why not wait until you are able to come back to work. No sense in wasting vacation time when you are on Workman's Comp anyway!" Mr. Jenkins said.
"Ok boss. Thanks for all that you are doing. Everyone has been so supportive." Steve said.
"Not a problem. Just get better...we got some major clients in the works and I want my best man on landing them. But no more driving across country - ok?" he said jokingly.
"I don't think you have to worry about that - Linda won't let me behind the wheel!" Steve said smiling.
Steve rolled across the hall to his own office. He looked around, went through his desk, looking for something to trigger a memory. He saw Linda and the kids pictures on his desk and stared at them for a few moments. He looked at some of the papers in his desk and then closed his desk up. Nothing jarred his memory here. He turned around to leave and saw his wife standing quietly in the doorway.
"Oh, hi honey." he said a bit startled. "What are you doing up here?"
"I just thought you might be able to remember something and I wanted to be here in case you did." she said.
"Well nothing came back yet. But I gave the briefcase to Mr. Jenkins. Turns out that he had already resubmitted the contract and picked up where I left off." he said. "Let's go."
Linda pushed the wheelchair back down the hall to the receptionist desk. Kimberly came out from behind her desk as they approached and took Steve's hand.
"It's so nice to see you back at work, Steve. We have all been praying for you and missing you."
"Thanks, Kim." he said.
Kim hugged Linda "If I can do anything to help out, you let me know, ok?"
"Ok." Linda said.
"I mean it, Linda. We're all like family around here and if you need anything at all, you just call and we'll take care of it." Kim insisted.
"Ok, I will. I promise." Linda said again.
With that, Steve and Linda left the office and returned home.
The day for Steve's first session with Dr. Tamasuki came and him and Linda got ready to go to Cincinnati again. This time, though, they decided to bring the kids, figuring after Steve's session, they would all go out to eat. They left their home in Forest Park unsure about what the day would bring. Steve was hoping that the doctor would be able to find out why he couldn't remember anything prior to his waking up in that Chicago hospital. Linda was just wanting to get her husband back.
The two kids, blissfully ignorant as to what the day meant for their parents, were excited to go to "the big city" and see all the shops and stores there. So everyone piled into the car and they headed south to Cincinnati. The trip was uneventful except for the inevitable "Are we there yet?" questions from the two youngsters. But they enjoyed the trip and before long, they began seeing the outskirts of the city. Knowing the kids were hungry, they decided to stop for a bite to eat before heading to the doctor's office. They stopped at a fast-food drive-through and got a hamburger and fries for the kids, while Steve and Linda split a large soda. They drove to the doctor's office as the kids ate and just as they pulled into the parking lot the kids finished the last of their meals. Steve, Linda and the kids went upstairs to Dr. Tamasuki's office and went inside.
"Hello, Mr and Mrs. Williams." the receptionist said.
"Hello." Steve said.
"Dr. Tamasuki is expecting you. Right this way please." Steve followed her into the back while Linda stayed in the waiting room with the kids. The receptionist was kind enough to provide the kids with crayons and a coloring book each so they had something to do while they were waiting. With the kids settled with their coloring books, Linda took out the book she brought with her and began reading. Steve, meanwhile, was getting prepped for his trip back into his memory.
"OK, Mr. Williams, why don't you just have a seat here on the couch and we'll get started." Steve took a seat on the couch and laid back as Dr. Tamasuki indicated.
"Now, Steve, I want you to watch this coin as I begin to talk to you. Just watch the coin..."
About a half hour later, Steve came out of the office and rejoined Linda and the kids.
"Well?" Linda said anxiously.
"Well, I was able to remember some things...like why I was in Chicago and what I did there. I remember getting on the plane here in Cincinnati and flying to Chicago. You drove me here. And I remember the hotel room and the rental car I used to drive home. But I don't remember much before the trip or very much about the drive home. Just the rental car I used." Steve said.
"Well, that's more than you had before we came here, at least." Linda said optimistically.
"Yeah, I guess." Steve replied.
"Don't worry, Steve. These things sometimes take some work to get at. We can't expect a full recovery on your first visit." Dr. Tamasuki said. "We'll get to the rest of your memories soon. Meanwhile, Misumi here will be happy to set you up with another appointment where we can dig a little deeper into your subconscious and see what more we can find out."
So that's what they did. Steve set up another appointment with Dr. Tamasuki and they left the office, disappointed that they didn't know more, but happy that it wasn't a complete waste of time. Steve did know more than he did before the doctor's appointment, but he was still in the dark about most of his previous life.
But the disappointment in the doctor's office soon gave way to the fun of shopping. The first stop was, of course, to the toy store. Linda had looked up the address while at the doctor's office so she knew just where to go. And before the kids realized it, they were parked in front of Toyland, one of Cincinnati's biggest toy stores!
Wide-eyed and slack-jawed, the kids walked into toy heaven. Before them, it seemed, lay every toy ever made since time began, all neatly categorized, labeled and shelved for their perusal. As the two youngsters walked holding their parents hand each aisle they went down help new wonders - each more fabulous than the ones before. They reached the model section of the store first and Steve found the same model he had bought for Michael in Chicago. So he picked that up and showed his son.
"Michael, this is the model you wanted when I was in Chicago, right?"
"Yes, Dad. That's the one."
"Ok we'll get this one, since I owe you one. Now you can pick another model, or something else."
Michael scanned over the selection of models carefully. He wanted to find the perfect one. And it didn't take long to find it.
"Here it is. I want this one." Michael said triumphantly. Steve looked at it.
"You want a model of an aircraft carrier?" he said.
"Not just an aircraft carrier, Daddy, your aircraft carrier. Mommy showed me the pictures of when you was on one - isn't this yours?"
Steve looked and sure enough, he remembered the ships designation CVN-70...The Carl Vinson.
"Oh my God! Honey look! He's right!" Steve said incredulously.
"Oh my goodness! Yes! That's your ship! Steve you remembered!" she said excitedly.
Steve reached down and picked up his son and whirled him around. "Yes! Son yes, of course you can have that one!" Steve said as he squeezed his son tightly in his arms.
As they overcame the excitement of the new discovery, They continued their shopping. Now it was Cindy's turn and they moved into the baby doll area. Again Steve scanned the myriad of baby dolls to find the very one he had bought for Cindy in Chicago. And he found the last one the store had. He grabbed it up and told his little girl that he had got one for her before, but the accident took it away. She looked at it and held it tightly - she wasn't going to let this one get away! And like her brother, she got to pick another toy as well.
Cindy opted for a car seat "So her baby wouldn't get hurt like Daddy was." she told them. Steve and Linda looked at each other and then quietly put the car seat in the cart without a word. They walked to the front and rang up their purchases at the register and left the store. Steve carefully installed the car seat in between the two kids and put the baby doll - Sarah was her new name - in the seat, buckling her in just as carefully as he did Cindy and Michael. With everyone safely in the car, Linda headed for the restaurant.
After a good meal at their favorite restaurant, they decided to make one last stop at the electronics store before heading home. Steve had his laptop in the car with him during the accident and with his memory coming back little by little, he was looking towards the day when he could go back to work. And he needed a laptop to do that. So they stopped in to look at the new laptops and see what was available. Steve found a suitable laptop easily enough - it had plenty of processing power, it had more than enough memory, and it had the USB ports he needed for his accessories.
"Here we go." Steve said looking at the laptop he selected. "This one will do nicely."
"Ok, what else do you need?" Linda asked.
"Well I need a mouse, and a couple USB flash drives. That should get me started at least." he said.
"What about software?"
"Well the office has just about everything I need in that department. I may have to download a couple little programs, but that's not a problem."
"Ok, then. Now let's get you a new briefcase. Your old one was pretty beat up even before the accident and since you are starting new, you may as well look the part!" Linda smiled.
They walked over to the briefcases and selected a nice one that wasn't very expensive, but would leave the client with a good impression.
"We need to save the receipts, in case the company reimburses you for these work expenses. Or if not, then we can take them off as deductions at tax time." Linda said.
"Yeah, I'll have to talk to Jenkins about that." Steve said.
Once the laptop and briefcase was purchased, the four got in the car and headed for home. It had been a long, yet fun and, at least for the kids, exciting day. Michael and Cindy fell asleep just outside of Cincinnati and slept until Linda pulled into their driveway.
"Michael" Linda said softly shaking him awake "Honey we're home." Michael woke and groggily stumbled into the house. Cindy didn't want to wake up so Linda just carried her into the house and put her to bed. With the kids tucked in bed, Steve and Linda sat in the front room relaxing and talking about the day. While there were a few breakthroughs and some of the holes in his memory had been patched, there was still a lot of blackness remaining and he would have liked to seen more progress.
"This amnesia thing is so aggravating" Steve remarked.
"I know, Honey. But it's coming. Slowly, yes, but we are making some headway on it." Linda reassured him.
"I just wish I could remember more. Like from my childhood and when we were dating." Steve complained.
"Well I told you how we met." Linda said.
"I know. But I want to be able to remember it myself." Steve said. "Hey do we have any photo albums of those days?"
"Yeah, we have a ton of photos! Your parents took lots of pictures and we took lots of pictures. I can't believe we haven't thought of this before! I'll have to dig around to find them, but we have a whole bunch of photos around here someplace!" Linda exclaimed.
The next day, Linda woke up with a purpose - she was going to find those photo albums! So after the kids had had their breakfast, the dishes were washed, a load of clothes was in the process of getting washed, and Steve was outside watching the kids play, Linda had some time to look for the photo albums. She began by looking in the closets and under the bed. But they weren't there. Next, she moved on to the basement. And there, hidden behind some camping gear and a box of Christmas stuff was a box labeled albums. That must be it! She hurriedly got it down and opened it up. Yes! There they were! A half-dozen photo albums, a couple high school yearbooks and some newspaper articles. "This has got to jar Steve's memories!" she thought to herself. Proud of her discovery, she carried the box upstairs and set it on the table for later. It would be a nice way to spend the evening.
Sure enough, after dinner that evening, the four of them sat down in the living room and opened the box of photo albums and memorabilia and began going through it.
"Let's start with our high school yearbook." Linda said. She pulled it from the box and opened it. "Forest Park High School" she read the school name "Go Tigers!" she added laughing. Let's find your picture. She leafed through the yearbook until she came to the seniors section. "F...L...R.." she said as she worked her way to what she wanted to find. "W. Here we go. Ok here you are. Steve Williams - football, student council, Key Club." she handed the book to Steve pointing him out.
"See? Do you remember this picture"
"No, but what a goober I was!" he said.
"Aww, I thought you was the most handsome boy in the whole school." Linda said dreamily.
"And this must be you!" Steve said teasing.
"Ewww! No! Don't!" Linda started.
"Linda Wilson - cheerleading, debate team, pep squad"
"I hate that picture! she said trying to grab the book.
"Why - I think you're hot! I can see why I married you!" he pulled her close and kissed her.
"Ok you guys are gross! I'm leaving!" Michael said.
"Gross!" Cindy repeated. Steve and Linda made even more kissing sounds teasing the two youngsters.
The two kids got up and ran to their rooms, afraid of getting "cooties".
Steve and Linda returned to the yearbook. "Do you remember our graduation? Here's us in our cap and gowns. And here's our senior prom...do you remember this?" Linda asked hopefully.
"I...think so, maybe. Something about it seems familiar." Steve said.
"Good, that's good." Linda said encouraging her husband.
"Well, that was our yearbook. Let's see what else we have in here." Linda said reaching for a photo album.
Steve moved a little closer so he could see better.
"Oh look, here's the house you lived in back when we first met. It's over on 15th Avenue. I lived a block down the street on Adams Street. You used to ride your bike over to my house all the time so we could go to the schoolyard to play together."
"I see." he said.
Linda went through the photo album with her husband, explaining each picture and helping to give him a better understanding - if not memory- of who he was and his past history. Some of the pictures Steve looked at seemed vaguely familiar...like a shadow in a fog. But in the end, he wasn't much further along than before he opened the box.
"Oh this is just so frustrating!" Steve said finally.
"I know, Honey, but you have remembered some things." Linda tried to console him. "And didn't the doctor tell you that it may come back gradual or it could just pop back in all of a sudden?"
"Well I wish SOMETHING would pop!" he groaned.
"I know. Linda said as she laid her head on his shoulder."
A couple more weeks went by and Steve did his best to keep himself occupied and wrestled with his memory. But he was getting bored and restless at home. He had shed his casts and was getting around better on his crutches. His right leg had knit back together enough that he could bear weight on it again but he still had to be gentle with his left leg as it was more damaged and the pins in it still hadn't healed altogether. But at least he was more mobile and didn't have to rely on Linda so much. Which made him even more impatient. So one Sunday afternoon he made an announcement at dinner.
"Tomorrow is Monday and I have decided to start back at work again. It's been two months since my accident and now that I am out of the wheelchair, it's time I get back to the office and see what I can do to start working again."
"Are you sure, Honey?" Linda asked concerned.
"Yes. I have to get back to work or I'm afraid that I may never be able to. Mr. Jenkins has been more than fair about letting me have the time I need to heal, but he can't wait on me forever. Besides, if I don't get back into the advertising game, I may lose any skill or talent I may have had."
"Well, I guess it's all right. I mean it's not like you'll be going out of town right away - right?"
"No, I won't be going out of town. I don't know what I'll be doing - I may not even be working on advertising like I was before. I may be put in office administration or something." Steve said.
So it was decided...Steve would begin back at the company again in the morning. Linda wasn't real happy about it - she had gotten kinda of used to having Steve around the house and liked him home. But she also knew he was not the type to just lay around and not contribute to the household. Steve was an old-fashioned guy - he believed in being the head of the household and the breadwinner. These were some of the attributes that attracted Linda to him in the first place. So despite her reservations, she agreed to let Steve go back to work and see how it went. But she also knew she'd be watching him carefully...just in case.
The next morning, Steve got up to the alarm clock and dressed and prepared for work. "This will be an interesting day" he thought to himself as he dressed. He grabbed a quick cup of coffee and then got in his car and took off to the office. Both Linda and Steve had separate vehicles so Linda could do the things she needed while Steve was at work. Once Steve arrived at work, he found a parking space and went inside - unsure about what the day would bring but glad to be back in the workforce again.
"Good Morning, Mr. Williams!" the receptionist greeted him.
"Morning, Kimberly. Is Mr. Jenkins here yet?"
"Yes he is. May I buzz him for you?" she asked.
"No that's ok. I'll just go back to see him."
"That's fine. When are you coming back to work again?"
"That's what I'm here to find out. Hopefully today."
"Oh that would be great!" Kimberly said happily.
Steve went on back to see his boss. Knocking on the door he heard an answer from behind it.
"Steve! Great to see you! How can I help you?" Mr. Jenkins asked.
"Well I was hoping I could start back to work today."
"Oh really? Are you sure you're up to it? I don't want to rush you."
"No, it's all right. Besides, I'm going stir crazy just laying around the house!"
"Well, I wasn't expecting you, but let's see what we can do to get you back on board then."
The two walked across the hall to Steve's office.
"Jim this is Steve Williams...the guy whose place you have been working in. Steve, this is Jim Thompson. He is a temp while you were out, but he has done a great job filling in for you. Jim, Steve here is ready to come back to work so I want you to bring him up to speed on what you're working on this week so he can get back to doing what he does so well!" Mr. Jenkins said smiling. But first I need to see you in my office, Jim."
"Sure thing." Jim said. Steve sat in his chair and looked over his desk while Mr. Jenkins and Jim talked in his office. Presently, Jim came back to Steve.
"What did Jenkins want?" Steve asked.
"Oh he wanted me to know that you are coming back to work. He told me about your accident when I first started here and that he hoped you would eventually come back. But just now he told me I had done such a good job here, that he wanted me to stay on permanent after I get you back to doing your job again."
"Hey, that's great! We can always use a good hand around here. And I'm glad I'm not putting you out of a job."
"So am I. I like it here and the people are great."
"Yeah, they sure have been good to me lately. It's a great bunch here - a real family."
So Jim started telling Steve what he had been working on and the status of the projects since he had been gone. Steve was glad to learn that the Chicago project had been completed and that everything worked out even though Steve had not been able to bring the contract home himself. And Jim Thompson had, indeed, been able to fill in more than adequately for Steve in his absence. Mr. Jenkins knew a good man when he saw one!
Lunchtime came and a couple of Steve's fellow ad people poked their heads in his office.
"Steve, we're all going down to Olive Garden for lunch. Ya coming?" they said.
"No thanks. I'm going to stick around here and go over more of these contracts and paperwork. I got a lot of catching up to do."
"Ok, you want us to bring you something back?"
"That's ok. I'll order something in if I get hungry." he said. "You guys go ahead and have fun."
So everyone left to go to lunch leaving Steve in the office alone. Or so he thought.
A couple minutes later Kimberly, the receptionist popped her head in Steve's office.
"Oh, Hi Kim. What's up?"
"Would you mind watching the phones for a couple minutes - I have to run downstairs to get some more paper for the copy machine."
"Sure, but why aren't you at lunch?"
"Mr. Williams, I don't eat lunch at the same time as everyone else. My lunchtime isn't until 1:00. That way someone is always here to answer the phones."
"Oh I see. Well go ahead. I'll get the phone if it rings while you're gone."
"Thanks. I'll only be a minute." she said as she left.
Steve went back to looking over the files he had laid in front of him. A minute or so later the phone did ring.
"Good afternoon, AAG advertising." Steve said blankly. Suddenly, he dropped the phone. He remembered!
He realized that he dropped the phone and picked it back up. H..hello? he stammered. It was someone trying to raise money for some charity drive so Steve told them that this was a place of business and hung up.
Kimberly came back into Steve's office just as he hung up the phone.
"Kimberly! The most wonderful thing has happened!" he said raising out of his chair.
"What? What happened?" she asked.
"I remember! I remember everything!" he exclaimed.
Steve told her what had happened and they hugged excitedly.
"Steve, call your wife! She has to know!" Kimberly said.
"Yeah, Ok." and he proceeded to call her up.
Steve explained over the phone what had happened. He told Linda that he had just been here 'holding down the fort' while everyone was out and when the phone rang he answered it. He told her how he answered it without even thinking - a gut reaction of sorts - and then everything just clicked into place! Even Kimberly could hear Linda's excited scream over the phone! As the lunchtime group got back Steve told them all what happened and everyone was overjoyed with the news.
Mr. Jenkins told Steve to go home to his wife and that he could come back tomorrow. "But for now - you need to be with your family." he said.
Steve could barely drive home, he was so excited and when he pulled into the driveway, Linda ran out to meet him, her face still wet with the tears she had been crying. They embraced for several minutes before walking arm in arm back into the house. Steve's parents arrived shortly after, wanting to see their son back in his old form again. Steve recounted the story for them and everyone was so grateful that Steve was himself again.
Steve remembered everything up to the point of going into that diner that fateful day. He never regained the memory of the accident, however. And that may have been another blessing in itself.
The above story is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and events in it are products of the author’s imagination and are used as fantasy. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than Lushstories.com
with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.
<a href="https://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/a-stranger-in-my-house-chapter-4.aspx">A Stranger In My House, Chapter 4</a>