Jim closed his eyes and started a mental rundown of what he needed to do today. His thoughts were halted by the sound of his wife's coughing. He climbed out of bed and walked out into the hall. He stopped at the bathroom door. He listened quietly to the unmistakable sounds of retching and vomiting. He raised his hand to knock on the door. No. I'll give her a little privacy. If she needs me, she'll call me. He let his hand fall to his side and he returned to the bedroom to get dressed.
Jean Reed sat on the floor. Her nylon gown clung to her as sweat dripped from her body. She leaned against the bathtub. The cool porcelain felt good against her skin. If only the room would stop spinning. She closed her eyes and waited to come in for a landing. She thought about the last time she had felt this sick. It was a little over three years ago. About eight months after it happened, James Reed Jr. discovered America.
She opened her eyes and, bracing herself against the side of the tub, raised herself slowly to her feet. She pulled a washcloth from the linen closet and dropped it into the sink. She leaned against the sink, still fighting the rotating room, and watched the water saturate the rag. She picked it up and held it first against her face and then against the back of her neck. The cool cloth helped. The nausea subsided for the moment and the room seemed to settle. She turned off the water and stepped out into the hall.
Jim came out of the bedroom. "Ah, honey, bless your heart. Let me help you back to bed." He gently placed his arm around her waist.
"Thanks. I think I'll be okay. It just hit me out of the blue."
"Do you need me stay with you today? I've got some vacation time coming," Jim offered as he helped her into bed.
"No. I'm sure this will pass. It's only a little nausea and dizziness. Probably just a bug. I'm so glad Jimmy threw such a fit to spend the night with mom and dad when we saw them last night. I'll rest for a while, then I'll call mom and ask her to keep Jimmy today. I'll be fine. You go on to work. If I need you, I'll call the station."
"Well, if you're sure." Jim leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. He turned out the light and left.
Jim backed the car out of the driveway and headed for work. Jean hardly ever gets sick. I can't even remember the last time she was. That's a miserable way to spend the day, especially when it hits you so early in the morning. Poor baby … Baby?… No. She couldn't be. Oh wow, I bet she is. Jean's pregnant again. This morning was just like when she was expecting Jimmy. Sudden nausea and dizziness … This is great! … I think.
He arrived at the station and fairly floated to the locker room to change into his uniform. He whistled as he buttoned his shirt and pinned on his badge and shooting brass. "Gooood morning, partner," he sang as Pete entered the locker room.
"Mornin' Jim," Pete replied with less enthusiasm. Pete Malloy was not a morning person.
After roll call, Pete and Jim climbed into Adam-12, and started another day on Day Watch. They drove in silence for a while until the caffeine from Pete's earlier cup of coffee kicked in. "So, you do anything exciting or newsworthy last night?"
"We went to eat with Jean's parents," Jim answered.
"How are Jean's parents?"
"Okay, I guess. Her mom's always great. Her dad was kind of a grouch last night. But I guess we're all entitled every once in a while."
"Yeah," Pete agreed. "Where'd you go?"
"Captain Ahab's Seafood Shack. It's that new place out Pacific Coast Highway. Have you been there yet?"
"No, but I've been meaning to try it. Any good?"
"I thought it was. I had the Neptune Platter. Fish and shrimp prepared three ways, plus all the sides. Delicious. Prices were good too. I left with a full belly and a smile on my face." Jim patted his stomach for emphasis.
The morning continued quietly. They had a couple of routine calls. A missing child who turned up under his bed after refusing to go to school, and a domestic disturbance that fizzled into a slight disagreement by the time they arrived.
As they drove through their district, Pete glanced over and noticed a big grin plastered across Jim's face. "Okay, Reed, spill it. You've had that big cheesy grin all morning. What gives?"
"Nothing," Jim replied innocently while trying to contort his face back to normal.
"Jim, I know you. Something's up. Now what is it?" Pete coaxed.
"Okay, Pete. Now, you have to understand nothing's been confirmed yet, but I think Jean might be pregnant." Jim allowed the grin to burst out on his face again.
"Is that possible?"
"Well, if we approach this from the cause and effect angle then yes, it's definitely possible," Jim teased.
Pete felt his face grow hot. "Jim, you know what I mean."
"Yeah, Pete, I know. Truth is, Jean and I weren't trying. We're usually pretty careful, if you catch my drift. But I guess sometimes, things just happen."
"What makes you think she's expecting again?"
"I've never been too good about, you know, calculating dates and stuff. But, this morning Jean got very sick. She was in bed when I left. I got to thinking on the way to work and it's the same kind of sick, like when Jimmy came."
"So I guess by your earlier mile-wide grin that you're okay with this?" Pete questioned.
"Like I said, we weren't planning it, but hey, God works in mysterious ways. It's His timing that counts. So yeah, I'm excited. I just hope Jean feels the same."
"Well, if you're excited, then I'm excited. Congratulations, buddy!" Pete reached over and punched Jim in the arm.
"1-Adam-12, see the woman, 1448 Bloomfield Ct. Unknown disturbance."
Jim grabbed the mic and responded to dispatch.
They arrived at the call site and made their way up the sidewalk to the moderate home. Pete rang the bell. The door opened and a pretty, but tired-looking young woman invited them in.
Once inside, they were greeted by three identical cherub faces staring up at them. "Hello, officers. I'm afraid I might have called you for nothing. I'm Lisa Bowling. These are my children." She gestured toward the triplets.
"Wow! They're somethin'. How old are they?" Jim reached out and mussed the hair of the little boy nearest him.
"They're 18 months and I'm 22 years, but that's about 66 in triplet years I think," Lisa Bowling joked as she motioned for the two officers to sit down.
"You said you might have called for nothing?" Pete steered the conversation back while bouncing his index finger for a cute little girl who had latched on to it.
"Yes. My husband is out of town on business. It's the first time he's been away since the babies came. I'm such a worrywart, every sound I hear spooks me. I thought I heard someone in my backyard so I called the police. But when I looked out the window, I saw a raccoon scamper up and over the fence. I'm sure that's all it was. I'm sorry I'm wasting your time and being such a bother."
"It's no bother, ma'am," Jim explained. He smiled as one of the triplets walked over and put a chubby barefoot on top of his polished black shoe. Jim wiggled his toes inside his shoe and made the little boy's foot dance. The child giggled with delight. Jim scooped him up and sat him on his knee. He looked at Lisa Bowling and continued, "You did the right thing to call. Better safe than sorry. I'm sure your husband would agree."
"Officer Reed is right, Mrs. Bowling. It probably was only the raccoon, but I'll step outside and take a look around back just to be sure." Pete stood and excused himself to the backyard.
He returned quickly. "Looks like it was just ol' Mr. 'coon picking through your garbage cans. Just make sure the lids are on tight and you shouldn't have any problems. I guess we better get back out on patrol, Jim."
"Right." Jim sat the little boy over on the couch as he stood to leave. "Great little family you've got here, Mrs. Bowling."
"Thank you. I feel like it's about naptime. I just hope I can get my three little sweeties here to agree. Thank you both for coming. I'll walk you to the door."
"Not necessary ma'am. We can find our way out. And, if you feel like you need us for anything, don't hesitate to call," Pete directed as he and Jim walked to the front door.
"Thank you, again," Lisa Bowling called as she busily tried to extract her daughter's arm from the far recesses inside the couch.
"Cookie in there." Pete heard the little girl cry as he closed the door behind them.
"Now that was something. Can you imagine having three kids all the same age, Pete?"
"I can't even imagine having one," Pete quipped. "You ready to eat?"
"Always." Jim keyed the mic, "1-Adam-12 clear and requesting code 7."
"1-Adam-12, okay 7."
The two officers sat in a small both at the diner on the corner of Eighth and Mullins. "Pete, did I ever tell you about how Jean let me know she was pregnant with Jimmy?"
"No, I don't think so."
"It was back when I was at the academy. I was having the worst day of my life. It had to be 100 degrees in the shade that morning and the instructor said he'd had it with the slackers so we doubled up on calisthenics. Later, during a written exam, I misread the directions and missed all the multiple-choice questions. Then to top it all off, I made a real bonehead mistake at the firing range. That instructor wasted no time climbing my collar and jumping down my throat.
"Anyway, I got home totally wrapped up in my bad mood. I kept noticing this funny smell. Not a bad smell, just one I didn't recognize. I asked Jean what it was, but she ignored me and at the time, I really didn't care. I crashed on the couch until Jean called me to eat. She fixed baby back ribs, baby carrots and baby peas. I never made the connection and I mostly sulked through dinner. Jean just let me brood. Nothing was going to dampen her spirits. She was really cute. I swear, Pete, if she'd been a puppy I think she would have wagged her tail off. After we ate, she asked me if I'd like dessert. I made some kind of hateful comment about not caring one way or the other. Well, I think that took the wind out of Jean's sails just a little. She looked like she might cry, but she was determined to surprise me in a special way with the best news of my life. She got up and walked over to the drawer. She came back with a little yellow bag. She opened it and poured a little pile of sugar babies on my plate. I looked up at her like she'd lost her mind. Before I could say anything she said, 'And, by the way, that smell is baby powder and you might as well get use to it'. She had sprinkled powder all around the house - under the couch cushions, behind the curtains, everywhere. It finally hit me. Man, my mood did a complete 360. I'll never forget it."
"That's a great story, Jim. Jean's one creative lady. How do you think she'll break the news this time?"
"Oh, I'm sure she'll come up with something good. You about ready to get at it again?"
"Ready as I'll ever be," Pete said as he stood and tossed his dirty napkin on the table.
Back on patrol, Jim checked a plate on the hot sheet.
"You got one?" Pete asked.
"Nah." Jim looked far away and distracted as he mumbled, "Peter Carver Reed."
Pete did a double take. "Excuse me?"
"I think I'll talk to Jean about naming the baby Peter Carver Reed. Carver is Jean's maiden name, you know."
"Yeah, I know. Peter?"
"Well sure," Jim replied as if it were the only logical choice.
"What if Peter Carver Reed turns out to be a girl?"
"Then we'll just have to toughen her up or maybe write a country song about her," Jim joked. "Seriously, I'm sure Jean will come up with a sweet little girl's name."
"Yeah," Pete agreed.
The rest of the afternoon played out uneventfully. They patrolled their assigned streets and took a few runs through the park. A relaxing quiet settled inside Adam-12. Even dispatch remained silent except for the occasional crackle of static. Pete Malloy arched his back and stretched. The warm afternoon sun beckoned him to a short nap. He yawned and straightened his arms against the steering wheel, willing himself to be more alert.
"And, I'll tell you another thing!" Jim turned sideways to look at his partner.
Pete snapped to attention as Jim's sudden outburst jolted him from his own lazy afternoon thoughts.
"This time I'm going to be there for Jean. Remember Jimmy's birth? I tried to convince everybody how organized I was. Running around with a pocket full of dimes, making you stop every time we passed a phone booth. I ended up missing it. Well, not this time. First twinge of a pain and I'm at Jean's side… or at least in the hospital's maternity waiting area."
"I'd say you've got a good plan there, Jim," Pete said as he glanced at his watch. He stifled another yawn. "Man, I just can't seem to shake the lazies today. Let's head back to the station. All the trivial little calls we got today will require as much paper work as the big cases we missed."
At the station, they finished their reports quickly and headed for the parking lot. "Listen, Pete, I just thought of something I need to do. I'll see ya tomorrow."
"Sure, Jim. Good night." Pete continued on to his car.
Jim made a quick stop by the vending machines before heading home.
He parked the car and jogged across the lawn. I'm going to be a daddy again. I'm in such a great mood. I can't wait to talk to Jean. He took the steps two at a time and entered the back door. He found Jean standing in the kitchen pouring a glass of ginger ale. "Hi, beautiful, how ya feeling?"
"Better than I look, I'm sure," Jean said running a hand through her hair.
They walked over and sat down at the table. "I don't care if you are sick. I still think you're the prettiest gal in town. You kinda have a glow about you." Jim reached over and squeezed her hand.
"Yeah sure. A glow about like Casper the ghost. I'm so pale. What's that in your shirt pocket?"
"Just a little bag of sugar babies." Jim gave her a knowing smile. "You want some?"
"Ooh, no thanks." Jean frowned at the offer.
"Oh, right. Is Jimmy home?"
"Yes. He's in our room sitting on the bed looking at his books. He'll probably help you eat that candy."
"Did you talk to your parents today?"
"Sure, when they dropped off Jimmy."
"What'd they have to say?"
"Well, you know daddy. He's been such a grouch lately. He got all puffed up and said he'd just like to go on record as being against it from the very beginning."
Jim's eyes grew wide with surprise but he didn't say anything.
"And," continued Jean, "mother said she was disappointed and that she was sure we regretted the decision and that we should never do it again."
"Your mother said that?"
"Yes and quite honestly I agree with her."
"You do?" Jim couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"Yes, honey. I know you enjoyed it, I could tell by the look on your face. But, I don't care to spend another morning like this morning. We'll just have to find some other way to spend our evenings." Jean took a sip of ginger ale.
Jim stared at her in disbelief. "Jean, how…why…what are you talking about?" He stammered.
"Oh! I'm sorry, Jim. I guess I am confusing you. I'm talking about what the doctor said."
"You went to the doctor? What did Dr. Mills say?" Jim asked.
"No, sweetie, Mills is my gynecologist. I just went to our regular doctor. He said he had already seen two other women today in the same predicament as me and all three cases were caused by the same nasty culprit. Bad clams! Seems that seafood restaurant we went to last night served up a big batch of bad clams."
Bad clams? Jim you're so stupid. Don't look disappointed. Don't let Jean see it in your face. Try to look normal. "Bad clams, huh?" Jim's voice came out about an octave higher than usual. "Well, how 'bout that? Uh, I think I'll go play with Jimmy."
"Okay. Maybe I'll relax on the couch. I'm still feeling a little queasy."
Jim shook his head as he walked down the hall. "Yeah, a wasted queasy," he murmured under his breath.
"Did you say something, dear?" Jean called after him.
"Uh, I said you take it easy."
The next morning Jim waited until the last minute to report for roll call. He wanted to avoid the inevitable conversation with Pete for as long as possible. Sergeant McDonald, the watch commander, dismissed them and Jim headed for the door.
"Who lit a fire under you, Reed? What's your big hurry this morning?" Pete called after him.
"Nothing, Pete. I'll get the shotgun and meet you at the car." Jim hurried on.
Pete sat waiting in the car when Jim arrived. Jim climbed in quickly, secured the shotgun, threw his hat over the seat and turned to Pete. "Bad clams," he blurted without thinking.
"I beg your pardon," Pete said sniffing his armpit.
"Jean's not pregnant. The doctor said she ate bad clams at the seafood shack."
"Oh." Pete nodded sympathetically. "Sorry, Jim. Did you tell Jean that you thought she was expecting?"
"No way. I just hope she didn't catch on. I acted like such a fool yesterday. You didn't mention anything to any of the guys did you?"
"Me? No. Not a word. Why don't you clear us and we'll get going." Pete gestured toward the mic.
Jim cleared them and they began another day of fighting crime and keeping the streets of L.A. safe.
Jean dropped the laundry basket on Jimmy's bed. She reached in and pulled out a T-shirt. She folded it carefully and tossed it on the bed. She picked up another and noticed how good it smelled. She held it close and breathed in the springtime freshness her fabric softener guaranteed. My little boy's growing up so quickly. I remember when his diapers smelled like this. He was such a cute baby. She laid the T-shirt on the stack and picked up a tattered old bear. Mr. Bobo, Jimmy's first toy. Jean sat on the edge of her son's little bed. She tugged at the worn left ear of the silly looking little bear. Big Jim was so excited and so nervous when we all came home from the hospital. He acted like it was the first time he'd ever seen a baby… Baby! Oh my! I wondered why Jim acted so strange when he got home last night. All that nonsense about me having a glow… the sugar babies, I can't believe he remembered the sugar babies,… thinking I'd gone to Dr. Mills. He thought I was pregnant. He seemed so happy when he first came home, but once I told him about the clams his mood changed. He didn't have much to say the rest of the evening. I can't believe he didn't talk to me about it. Jean stood up and carefully placed Mr. Bobo back on Jimmy's pillow. She finished folding the rest of the clothes and went out to the living room.
Jimmy looked up from watching Captain Kangaroo. "Hi, mommy. Is lunch ready?"
"Lunch? We just had breakfast."
"Oh. My belly forgot."
"How 'bout some pretzels?"
"And juice?" Jimmy sat glued to the television.
"And juice." Jean agreed. She started for the kitchen but stopped and knelt down beside her son. She squeezed him against her, making his face turn up sideways. She planted a big sloppy kiss on his cheek. "I sure do love you."
"I love you, too, mommy," Jimmy replied without taking his eyes off the dancing bear. "I'm hungry."
Pete pulled Adam-12 into the station parking lot. The day had been filled with mostly routine calls and traffic stops. Inside the station, they stopped at the break room and grabbed a cup of coffee. "I'd say we're looking at about 45 minutes worth of paperwork. Then we're home free," Pete commented as they settled in to complete the required reports.
One hour and two cups of coffee later, the two officers placed their finished forms on Mac's desk. "That took longer than I thought it would. Let's get out of here," Jim said as he tossed his empty coffee cup into Mac's trash can.
"Same time tomorrow," Pete called from his car window as he drove past Jim and a few fellow officers talking in the parking lot. Jim waved as he got in his own car and headed home. It had been an uneventful day, but a tiring one.
"Honey, I'm home," Jim called as he stepped through the front door.
"Hi, sweetheart." Jean stretched up to give him a quick peck.
"He's playing in his room. Jim, I need to talk to you."
"Oh no. What'd I do now? Toilet seat up again? You found the empty milk carton in the fridge, didn't you?"
"No, it's something that happened yesterday." She guided him over to the couch. "But, we'll talk about that milk carton later, mister."
"Yes, ma'am." Jim winked at her. "What happened yesterday?" He asked as he slid down on the couch.
Jean sat down beside him. "Jim, I don't know any other way to ask you about this so I'm just going to come right out with it. When I got sick yesterday morning, did you think I was pregnant?"
"Maybe… sorta… well, yeah, I guess I did." Jim looked down sheepishly. "Kinda jumped the gun a little, didn't I? How'd you figure it out?"
"Oh, I don't know. Just the silly way you were acting. Are you okay with the fact that I'm not?"
"Of course. It was just one of those things."
"You didn't tell Pete or anybody did you?"
"Oh yeah. I told Pete in a big way. We had the kid named and half grown by the end of watch yesterday. But don't worry about it. Pete understands. I told him about the clams today. He just wants us to be happy."
Jean smiled at her over-zealous husband.
Jim wrapped his arm around her. "I love you, bad clams and all." She leaned her head against his chest. They sat enjoying the quiet until Jim suddenly threw his head back against the couch, laughing.
"Jim, what on earth is so funny?" Jean leaned back and looked up at him.
"Hon, I want you to just sit here and think about the conversation we had when I came home yesterday. Now, keep in mind that I thought we were talking about having another baby, but you were talking about eating at Captain Ahab's."
Jean thought about the conversation. As she replayed it in her mind, a smile broke out on her face. She clapped her hand over her mouth as she started to laugh, "Oh, Jim, that's so funny." She straightened suddenly and in mock seriousness said, "My mother suggests we not do it anymore."
Jim stuck out his lower lip in an almost convincing pout. "Ah, but honey, you know how much I enjoyed it, you could tell by the look on my face."
"Yes, but my dad's been against it from the beginning. And father knows best."
"I never liked your father." Jim teased.
She swatted playfully at his chest as they continued to laugh. "Its like dialogue from one of the Lucy episodes."
"And here's little Ricky now," Jim snorted as Jimmy appeared in the doorway to see what all the laughter was about.
"Not Ricky, Daddy. It's me, Jimmy Reed," the little boy said, patting himself on the chest.
Jim sobered quickly, wiping tears from his eyes. "Well, so it is. Hi, son."
"Hi, daddy. You come play in my room. We'll have fun."
"Okay!" Jim jumped up from the couch and chased his giggling son down the hall.
A little over an hour later, Jean stood in the doorway of her son's room. She leaned against the doorframe and sighed at what she saw. Her six foot two husband lay sprawled across his son's small bed. His arms hung limply over the sides of the bed and he snored softly. On the floor, she found a great trail of toys. She followed the trail to an empty toy box where she found her son sitting inside.
She maneuvered her way through the toy obstacle course; stopping at the bed, she smacked Jim on the bottom. "Wake up, sleepy head, its time to eat."
Jim rolled over on his back. "Just resting my eyes."
Jean stepped over to the toy box and peered down at her son. "Hey, sweetie, you ready to eat? I made your favorites."
Jimmy scrambled to get out of the toy box. "Oh boy! Chocolate cake and fruit loops and fish sticks."
"Oh. Well, I guess I made your other favorites. Cheeseburgers and fries and chocolate pudding?" Jean took her son by the arm and helped him over the edge of the box.
"Yippee! Let's eat," Jimmy yelled as he ran out of the room.
"Jimmy, wait for us. We'll be right there," Jean called after him.
She stopped at the bed and offered Jim a hand. He took her hand but instead of getting up, he pulled her down beside him. "I'm sorry, Jean."
"For being a jerk and for jumping to such a big conclusion and for blabbing to Pete before I talked to you."
"It's okay, Jim. I know you were just excited. We both know now's not the best time for us to have another baby. Financially it's not good and Jimmy demands so much of my time right now. But, who knows? Maybe later, in the future we might."
Jim took her face in his hands. He leaned in and kissed her softly. "I love you, Mrs. Reed. Do you know that?"
"Yes, I know that and I also know we better go see what our son's up to." She stood and offered Jim her hand again. This time he took it and she pulled him to his feet.
The rest of the evening passed quickly for the Reeds. Jean and Jim cleaned up the kitchen and with surprisingly little argument, Jimmy picked up the toys scattered all over his room.
Jean walked into Jimmy's room as he was throwing the last of the toys into the overflowing toy box. "Wow! You did a great job. It's spic and span clean in here. I might hire you to clean the whole house tomorrow."
"No, mommy. I'm too tired!" Jimmy exclaimed as he flopped down on his bed with an exaggerated sigh of exhaustion.
"Well then, let's get you ready for bed," Jean said pulling a pair of pajamas from the drawer. "Daddy will be in later to say good night."
Later, as Jean and Jim settled into bed, he turned to her, "You know, honey, I was thinking…"
Jean turned on her side to face him. She propped herself up on an elbow. "About what?"
"Well," Jim ran a finger up the outside of her leg, resting his hand on her hip. "I was just thinking, I know we agreed now's not a good time for another baby, but maybe if we were careful we could at least get in a little practice."
"Gee, I don't know, Jim. I'm right in the middle of this riveting article on canning homegrown tomatoes," she said as she picked up a magazine she'd been thumbing through. She dropped the magazine on the floor. "Maybe later," she teased as she snapped off the light and turned to the waiting arms of her husband.