Wednesday Evening 5-21-11
Their visitor was right on time. Since she received the phone call the day before, Ronnie was consumed with curiosity. She knew the woman slightly, she was her third cousin after all, but they hardly ever met except at family reunions. The fact that she was a lawyer deepened the mystery.
Her husband was a lawyer, and she asked him if he knew her professionally.
"Barely" he said, "She practices in another county so we rarely cross paths. She works alone, doesn't have partners, and does everything she can to pay the bills, including family law. I can tell you she is well respected."
Veronica ushered her into the den, and noticed how nervous she was. After the catching up on family was out of the way, she got right to the point.
"Ronnie, Phil, you must be wondering what's going on. Your dad contacted me almost two years ago about using me for some work he wanted done. Phil, I know you're his lawyer of record, and you will continue to be. Nothing will change that."
The woman, an attractive blonde in her early fifties, looked like she had tears in her eyes.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever been asked to do, but you don't refuse kin, so I helped him. Everything will be explained in the DVDs I have.
The first one you'll watch was made day before yesterday. All the rest are a good bit older. I'll be here while you watch them in case you have questions. I'm sure you will, and I'm sure you'll understand why I asked that your children not be here tonight."
She handed Phil a small stack of discs, each one labeled, and whispered to him.
He nodded, and came back with water for all three, and a box of tissues.
He picked up the one marked VERONICA AND PHIL, and inserted it into the player. Her father's face filled the screen. He was smiling.
"Ronnie, Phil, hi. Phil, don't take me getting Anne to do this is an insult to you, and after I explain, I'm sure you'll understand."
He paused and took a breath.
"You guys know that for the last year and a half I've been seeing a doctor. What you don't know is why."
He paused again, obviously fighting his emotions. Ronnie felt an impending sense of doom, she had never seen her father so emotional.
"There isn't a gentle way to say this. Almost two years ago I was diagnosed with Alzhiemers'. I went to the doctor because I was depressed, and thought that was what was causing me to be so absent minded. You didn't notice because at the beginning it was slight and I could blame it on my age. As it got worse I came around less and less, hoping you wouldn't notice."
"The drugs helped for awhile, but it progressed, and now my doctors have agreed it has entered the second stage. I have to give up my drivers' license and they urge that I look into assisted living. I've made the arrangements, but I want to clear up a few things before I go."
He slumped his head down for a few seconds before starting again. Ronnie felt the tears to starting.
Damn it! She had felt like something was off, but with two teenage girls, her job[especially this time of year, she owned an accounting firm and tax season had just ended], and his assurances he was fine, she had let it go. He looked up at the camera.
"Don't be mad at me for telling you like this. I just needed to make sure I got it right, and with this, it helps me make sure I'm clear. Plus, I'll still be around, and I expect all my kids to come and see me as often as they can while I can still remember them."
He stared hard at the camera for a second.
"When you, Joy, and Junior come to see me, I'm only going to ask for one thing. When it gets worse, when I can't remember who you are, and lose the ability to speak, I want you to stop coming. I won't know, and the thought of you staring at an empty husk would be too much to bear. Try to keep your memories of me happier."
"Remember when I asked you guys to give my doctor a DNA sample? I told you it was for research on a genetic trait that was almost exclusive to our family. What I was actually doing was having you tested to see if you were predisposed to Alzhiemers, after all it is genetic."
"Well, two out of three are safe. But you Ronnie, you're at risk. Phil, make sure she has a physical once a year. Progress is being made daily in search for a cure and treatments, and it is my sincere hope it never happens, but if it does, the quicker she starts treatment the better the quality of live you'll have."
The pain in his voice was very evident. He drew a deep breath.
"Now for the hard part. The reason Junior and Joy aren't at risk is they're not biologically my children. They don't have the same father either. I have no idea when it comes to Junior who his biological father is, but I'm pretty sure that Josh Randall is the sperm donor for Joy."
They had to shut the player off because Ronnie was sobbing into the chest of her husband. Soon Anne joined them with tears of her own. It was twenty minutes before she could regain her composure.
"Would you like me to leave?" Anne asked gently, "You could just call me later f you have questions."
Ronnie gripped her hands firmly.
"Please stay. I'm sure I'll have a million questions. How much longer is the video?"
"This one, about thirty more minutes or so. There are private messages for you, your brother and sister, both your spouses and one for Joy's roommate. And lastly, there is one for your mother. Are you up to continuing?"
Ronnie shook her head in assent, and they settled back into the couch as Phil turned it back on.
"You have no idea how shocked and hurt I was to find this out. It took me a few days to sort through my emotions. In the end, as far as you kids were concerned, it didn't matter. You're still ALL my children. I raised you, I loved you, I'll still be proud when you call me dad. You can't take back a lifetime of love based on a few lines of a chart. I pray they feel the same way."
"But Ronnie, in spite of how I feel about you guys, when it came to your mother, I admit it changed my feelings for her. I had a little investigation done, and didn't like the results, so I changed my will."
"You and Anne are my executors of the new will I had Anne draw up. We tried to cover ever contingency, but you never know. Ronnie, the fact that you alone are biologically mine has nothing to do with it. I named you because you were always the tough one. You're the one I trust to do the right thing. Junior has always favored his mother, and I was all right with that. Admit it, he's the most tender hearted person we know. And Joy is still a child, and I'm sure my revelations will hurt her deeply. You have to have the strength she needs to draw on. Help her."
"You know how much I love the mountains, and I found a nice place specializing in my condition there. Mountain Pines Assisted Living. The arrangements have been made and the finances have been taken care of. I want you and all the kids to come see me next weekend after I've settled in. I'm looking forward to it."
"But before I go, me and Elvis are going trout fishing. I'm taking my tent, I haven't done that in years. My last hurrah, so to speak. I love you Ronnie, all of you. I'll see you soon."
After a few more tears the questions started.
"Anne, how long have you known?"
"I found out almost as soon as he did. He surprised me by coming by my house. When we were settled he handed me a hundred dollar bill.
"What's this for?"
"Anne, I want to retain your services. I use my son in law usually, but what I'm doing is extremely confidential, I don't want any of my family finding out. Will you help me?"
"I felt like I was going to regret it, but I agreed. I was right, you can ask my husband how many times I came home over the next few weeks with a tear stained face. As I helped him, my admiration grew. Here was a man faced with a terrible future, and his first priority was to make sure his family wouldn't suffer. I can't say I agreed with everything he had me do, and I actually talked him out of a few things."
"One thing he stressed. You are not to tell your mother or your siblings until he personally says you can. He wanted you to know sooner so you could prepare for the storm. Look, It's getting late, and you've got a lot to think about. Come by Saturday evening. We'll fire up the grill and let my husband roast something. He is very good at that. Then we'll start on the paperwork."
MONDAY EVENING 5-09-11
On Monday of that week, three days before Anne met with his daughter Ronnie, David Childers sat in his worn old recliner, the one that was so comfortable he just couldn't get rid of despite his wife's complaints. He was looking at his wife of thirty one years. She felt his eyes and looked up.
"What?" she said with mild annoyance, her usual tone.
"Just thinking, Thirty one years together, a milestone for this day and age. Did you ever regret choosing me, a farmer, over your other beaus? Especially Ed. I think that man was born in a suit. Bet he's never had a dirty hand in his life."
He saw her eyes tighten up some. She waited a few seconds before answering.
"No, I don't regret choosing you. I'll admit, I wish you'd have dressed up a little more often, taken me out a little more often than you did, but that's history. I chose you, and I don't regret it."
"You sure? I know I haven't been a very good companion lately, with being sick and all. We haven't made love in almost a year, since I got sick, don't you miss it?"
He could tell she was uncomfortable with the subject.
"Relax, honey. A night out at a good restaurant pleases me more now than drinks and dancing. And we're in our sixties, that urge has been gone for a while now."
"Thank you babe, that means a lot."
He changed the subject.
"Honey, will you do something for me?"
A little leery because of the last conversation, she didn't commit immediately.
"What do you want?"
"It's trout season. I'm taking Elvis with me and spend the night at the state park. Will you make some of your pimento cheese and a batch of brownies for me to take? It seems like I catch more when you do."
She smiled indulgently.
"Sure thing. Are you up to a trip?"
He had kept his condition from her a secret as best he could. It was pretty easy actually, since she ignored him a lot. When she did, he blamed a sleep disorder and insomnia for making him forgetful. He had even moved out of their bedroom, saying he didn't want to keep her awake with his tossing and turning. She was fine with it.
SATURDAY EVENING 5-14-11
Ronnie and Phil, Anne, and her husband Jerry
were standing on the patio, enjoying the lat spring breeze while the meat cooked. There was little in the way of conversation, each wrapped in their own thoughts. Anne got another round of beers and settled back into her chair.
"Did you watch the DVDs?"
Despite trying to put on a brace front, Ronnie broke into tears immediately.
"Yes. And after talking it over, Phil and I had Junior, his wife Jane, Joy, and her roommate Sidney come over last night. I let them watch the cover DVD, and then gave each of theirs. I had watched them first per my instructions. Joy didn't take it well, she just got out of the hospital at three. She was treated for shock and a nervous breakdown. Junior went real quiet, then went on a rant about it being a pack of lies. Jane took him home and called me later. She had to give him a sleeping pill, and he was still ranting and tossing on the bed. I bet she didn't get a wink of sleep last night."
Anne hadn't considered that she would reveal the DVDs this soon, but everything was in place and rock solid. Phil had reviewed it and complimented her on her work. He gave her thanks for doing it, saying he understood how much of a conflict of interest it would have caused if he had prepared it. He had tears in his eyes when he told her of his video.
"I didn't know my father in law liked me so much. He thanked me for being such a good husband and father, and apologized for putting us in the middle. It made me very sad, and regret not spending more time with him. He made sure he stressed the importance of Ronnie and I being the anchors in the family now. I want to thank you, Anne. I know you probably didn't this much involvement in our lives, and we'll try to keep it to a minimum."
Jerry stood with his arm around Anne. A quiet man by nature, the depth of the betrayal he was exposed to affected him deeply.
"If you need anything, anything at all, call us. Doesn't matter what day it is, what time it is, call. It's too big a burden to carry on your own."
Anne tried to hug him harder, thanking God for the man he was.
"Now that everybody knows, Ronnie, what are you planning?
Ronnie sat up straighter, allowing some of her anger to surface.
"Not everybody knows. Our dear mother is in for one hell of a surprise down the road. We're all going as a family tomorrow to see dad at his assisted living facility, to see if he has anything he wants to add, and just love him. I
think he needs that right now."
SATURDAY MORNING 5-14-11
David felt the tug on his sleeve that same Saturday morning.
"All right Elvis, I'm awake. Too damn early on a Saturday if you ask me, but your right, trout waits for no man. Give me a minute and I'll make breakfast."
He sat up, glad for the little frame he had bought to put his double air mattress on. It made it a lot easier to get out of bed. He held his head in his hands for a bit. He'd had a bad episode last night, coming to his senses in the woods, with no idea how to get back to the campsite. If Elvis hadn't been there he would probably still be wandering around in circles. They were getting more frequent.
He fixed breakfast quietly while Elvis watched, keeping a close eye on the bacon.
Dishes done, he filled his small pack with lunch and fishing gear, picked up his rod, and looked over at Elvis.
"I'm gonna get that big one at Baker's Point today, Elvis. I can feel it. Ready to go?"
Elvis was so anxious he led the way.
FRIDAY NIGHT 5-13-11
Sidney held Joy by the hand in a firm grip for reassurance.
"Calm down, babe. It's probably nothing."
Joy had a death grip on Sidney, trying to draw strength from the woman she loved.
"I can't calm down. This has to be bad news. What if they know about us? What if they disapprove. The secret is killing me."
Sidney rolled her eyes, thinking how many times they had already gone over this.
"Good. Look, when we came out to my Mom last year she didn't freak. I think she was a little disappointed from the grandchildren angle, but she's always liked you, so she was happy for us.
When we told her we wanted to adopt after college and established in out careers, it sealed the deal"
Her eyes hardened.
"And if they don't approve, we'll wear them down. But it really isn't as big a secret as you'd like to think. I get the feeling your dad knows, even though he's never said anything. Your brother and sister aren't idiots, they have to suspect. I think the only one worried is you."
Now relax, I'm sure this doesn't have anything at all to do with you."
She thought many times over the next year how she wished she'd been right.
Junior and Jane were already there, so they started the meal. They were all intrigued by the the almost demand that they all be there. Ronnie just said it was important family business.
Finally, they were in the living room. Ronnie had fended off their questions during dinner.She surprised them all by hugging them in turn.
She grabbed Junior and Joy and looked into their faces.
"What I'm about to show you is going to hurt, really bad. There's nothing I can do about that. What I can do is assure you that no matter what you see, I'm still your sister and I love you deeply."
She played the original first. Soon everyone in the room was in tears. Ronnie gave Joy her video, offering to let her watch hers in their oldest daughters room. Per her father, she had watched everyone of the DVDs.
Five minutes later they heard a scream like that of a wounded animal and rushed upstairs, finding her curled into a fetal ball, moaning. They had to call the ambulance, and she was treated for shock, sedated, and kept overnight. After making there was absolutely nothing they could do, the went back to Ronnie's. The hospital assured everyone she would wake around eight. Sidney stayed.
Junior sat in his niece's room for a long time after the video ended, without moving. Jane finally went and got him, leading him like she would a small child. She promised she would have him at the hospital by eight, and she would watch her video at home. By then it was almost two in the morning. Ronnie and Phil fell into the bed exhausted.
SATURDAY MORNING 5-14-11
Sidney was dozing when Joy woke up. She stirred, trying to remember what kind of accident she was in. Her hands and legs moved fine, she didn't feel any lumps or contusions on her face of body. Joy felt the locket her dad had given her, and it all came back. She woke Sidney with a wail, bringing the nurses and doctors charging into the room. Sid had her wrapped in her arms, rocking her like a baby, waving them away. Soon the rest of the family were there and took turns holding her until she quieted down. She asked to be alone with Ronnie. After thirty minutes they came out, and Joy told them she was going to go spend the night with Sidney and her Mom. They all promised to meet at Juniors and go see their dad the next morning.
When she heard about David, Sidney's mom hugged Joy hard.
"That poor man. He was always so strong. Not the flashy look at me type strong, but like a tree. Solid. Dependable. You felt safe with him around."
SATURDAY AFTERNOON 5-14-11
Jane watched her husband like a hawk. She had never in her life seen him so quiet. He was loud, rowdy, in a happy kind of way. She rubbed her tummy to give her strength. Five months along, it was a girl, something that gave them both a lot of pleasure. She was a surprise baby. Jane was thirty six, and they had two boys, fifteen and thirteen. They loved their grandfather, this was really going to hurt them.
She had always liked her father in law. She didn't much care for her mother in law, she always seemed distant, cold. The kids always flocked to their grandfather. She and Ronnie always tried to engage her in conversation, but she rarely talked any length.
"I hope he does something about how awful she's been to him all these years. She deserves it."
She thought quietly. She never said anything, he had always been a bit of a momma's boy. Jane definitely did not want to have to comment on the whole mess.
The boys came home to them from the other set of grandparents, and he surprised them by hugging fiercely. They were surprised.
"Gee, dad, you act like somebody died. Are you all right?"
Junior spoke for the first time in hours.
"No, son," he said as he ruffled the hair of his oldest. He knew how bad he hated that, it just wasn't cool.
"I just got really sad news, and I'm still trying to process it."
He turned around and hugged Jane so hard he lifted her off the ground. For the first time in twenty four hours he appeared normal. She dreaded tomorrow, she had always been afraid of rest homes.
SATURDAY MORNING 5-14-11
Baker's point was named after one of the first settlers in the area, and the family owned the land at one time. The state had owned it for forty years, developing a park and campground.
There was hiking, swimming, boating, and especially fishing.
It was an actual point, a sheer knob of granite that extended out from the mountains into a point less than three feet wide. From there it dropped off ninety feet, where the headwaters of the river flowed by in typical fashion. An eighty foot run that dropped about four feet, strew with rocks the size of marbles up to the size of cars, before making a turn at the point and widening into a large pool.
David had just hiked up from the pool, and was sitting there gasping a little, just where the point leaves the mountain.
"Damn, Elvis, I can remember when I could run up here and not be out of breath."
Elvis looked at him like he was smiling. David noticed.
"Don't think I forgot. What the hell were you thinking? I almost had him, I bet he weighed fifteen pounds. That's a monster around here. I wasn't going to keep him, I just wanted to hold him once, before I let him go. I almost had him in the net when you jumped in the water and broke the line."
He looked over at Elvis, admiring him. He wasn't a perfect specimen, he had a crooked tooth that made his lip curl into a snarl, and it reminded him of a picture of a young Elvis, so he gave him that name. He was from the last litter of boxers he had bred, and was one of the biggest, weighing over seventy pounds.
He caught his breath and set out two small bowls.
He put water in one and a can of dog food in the other. He usually fed him dry, giving him a can once in a while as a treat. He took the long leash he had brought, clipped it to his collar, and tied it to a small tree. It was long enough to reach him as he unwrapped his lunch, and he bumped his head into his shoulder until he lifted his arm, and Elvis slid underneath.
He watched mournfully as David unwrapped his sandwich, whining softly.
"Damn, Elvis. I get you a gourmet can of food, and you're trying to steal the last meal I'm ever gonna have. What kind of fair is that?"
Still, he tore the sandwich in half and gave it to him.
"Here, bud. I owe you this. I want to apologize and thank you. First, for forgetting you for two days. Two days!"
His voice shook with shame.
"For two days you stood in your lot without food or water, yet when I remembered and came for you, all you wanted for the first minute or two was my attention. That's where the thank you part comes in. You made me realize it was time for me to stop pretending, and do something."
He paused to rub behind his ears, knowing he loved it.
"Did I ever tell you why I kept you instead of the others? You were butt ugly and dumb as a rock, for one thing. But the decider was loyalty. That's something I've come to value lately. It didn't matter if it was ten degrees or a hundred, if it was pouring rain in a high wind, or if it was a blizzard outside, if I went out you wanted to go too."
He patted the dog one more time.
"Don't worry, someone will be along shortly. You've got food and water, and if nothing else that bark will attract someone. Goodbye my friend."
He sat for a minute as tears ran down his face.
Looking at the point, he remembered this morning.
He'd walked out the the very end of the point and looked down. Ninety feet looked like a long way down. The headwaters of the river ran alongside the base, dropping about ten feet in an eighty foot run, strewn with rocks from the size of a tennis ball to the size of a car, before curving around into a deep pool.
Ninety feet. That should just about do it.
He thought carefully about the plans he made, trying to find a flaw. For the sake of his children, this had to look like an accident. All the upbeat videos should reinforce that it was an accident.
He felt foolish, but was compelled to speak.
"I never worried much about you, you know. I took my kids to church for years, because I felt they needed to be exposed to you. I never really felt you in church. I guess there were too many people competing for your attention."
"No, I felt you in the wind. In the warm sun and rain that made my crops grow, in the beauty of a perfect crop, bound to nourish people I would never meet. And I saw you a few times too, in the faces of my children. I want to thank you for all that."
"I know what I'm about to do is a sin according to some. I admit I'm doing it partly for me, the thought of dying by inches doesn't appeal to me at all. But, mostly I'm doing it for my children. I can't stand the thought of forcing them to watch me fade away until only a shell is left. I don't want to burden them by forcing them through guilt and pain to come by and spend time with an empty husk. I want their last memories of me to be good, when I was able to function. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm selfish, but I'm gonna do it anyway. Just wanted to clear the air."
He stood for a second more, then grinned.
"Oh, and if you feel like granting me a last request, let me catch Mr. Big. I won't hurt him, I'll put him right back in the water. It'll be a good memory to go out on."
SATURDAY AFTERNOON 5-14-11
Hank and Mary Travers were huffing and puffing, trying to keep up with their twelve year old daughter as she ran laughing up the trail. Both raised in a large city, they looked for jobs in smaller towns, looking for a better place to raise their children, and have a house with a big yard. Beth came to them late, they had just about given up trying when she came along.
They learned to love the outdoors, and camped as often as they could. They would regal friends at parties with their fiasco stories of their first attempt, but had become so proficient they were sought out as chaperones when Beth's girl scout troop went on their annual trips.
Beth heard the dog barking long before she saw it. When she topped the trail, she saw the big dog, tangled in his chain underneath the tree. An old man was sitting there, apparently ignoring the barking. Something didn't look right, and she waited for her parents.
When they got to the top Beth went up to the man and shook him gently.
"Mister? Mister! Are you all right?"
He was passive for a minute when he suddenly started. Gradually the little girl came into focus. When she saw him staring she repeated the question.
She remembered his reply her whole life, especially if she was in the mountains.
"No child, I'm not. Do you think your parents will walk me back to the campground? And if you would, unclip my dog and let him run while we untangle his leash. He won't hurt you. His name is Elvis, and the worst thing that could happen would be him attempting to lick you to death."
She looked at her dad and he nodded. She called his name and petted him for a minute before taking the leash off the collar. After being unable to take more than a few steps for hours, he immediately took off down the trail, burning off some pent up energy. She called after him, but the old man said to leave him, he'd be right back.
He was stiff when her mom and dad helped him up.
Her dad advised him to walk around a bit, to limber up his muscles. The old man walked to the end of the point and looked down, then up.
David walked to the end of the point. He looked down at the water, then up at the sky. If the nice young family hadn't happened by, it may have been morning before he came back to himself.
Looking up at the sky, he thought to himself about the day.
"Well, guess you showed me. I give up, we'll do it your way."
He turned to go back to the trail, when Mary Travers screamed. Elvis had come back up the trail at a dead run, saw his master, and leapt straight into his arms at full speed. It knocked him completely off the point. Luckily, the little girl was busy untangling the leash, and didn't witness it. She called 911, there was signal on the point, and soon the rangers and EMTs arrived. It was too late.
David looked upwards as he fell, and had just enough time to mouth "thank you", and with his last thought hurled Elvis into the pool. He popped up and immediately ran back to David, licking his face and whining. The rangers had to shoot him with tranquilizers to get him to stop defending the body two hours later.
SUNDAY MORNING 5-16-11
Juanita Childers walked through her front door with a happy smile on her face. She'd just spent a great night with her younger lover. They'd made plans for their future together, once she divorced David and got most of his assets. She was going to retire, and he was going to quit his job. The affair had been going on for over twenty years.
She thought about David, frowning. He was so nice, so gullible, he never suspected she was sleeping with other people. It had started less than two years after they were married, forty years ago, with their banker. After that fizzled out she hooked up randomly, carefully, always covering her tracks, until she met Josh.
It would be awful for David.It would be like clubbing baby seals. He might not ever recover.
But, as Josh often said, there's always got to be a loser.
As she laid her purse down, she noticed her answering machine was full, thirty messages. Odd.
It reminded her to turn on her cell phone, and she noticed her message board was full. Wonder what was going on? Most were from Ronnie and Phil, god what an insufferable ass he was, she wondered what she saw in him sometimes. She checked the last message. She heard Phils' voice.
"Juanita, when you hear this, you need to call me or Ronnie. David was in a serious accident yesterday, and you need to get to Highlands Medical just as soon as you can. Please let us know you got your message as soon as possible."
She was immediately concerned. Even if she didn't love him, she didn't want him to come to harm.
She called Ronnie.
"WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? OFF FUCKING JOSH RANDALL? GET YOUR ASS UP HERE RIGHT NOW, YOU SLUT!"
Her head reeled. Ronnie knew. God, she hoped she hadn't told David. She had to get up there right away, try to get a handle on the situation. She called Josh on the way out the door.
"Josh, David's been in an accident. I knew I should have left the phone on last night! Worse yet, somehow Ronnie knows about us. I'm on the way to the hospital. Keep an ear out for your phone, try to answer it before your wife does. It might be a good idea to turn it off today. I'll call back as soon as I know more."
She could hear the near panic in his voice.
"She can't know now! It would screw up all our plans. Call me as soon as you can."
As he disconnected, it struck her he never asked about David. She had a wicked thought she tried to suppress. What if he died? It would move their plans up, and she would end up with all his assets instead of just most.
She parked in the hospital lot, checking her hair in the mirror. Damn, she wished she'd had the presence of mind to change clothes. She had on her party dress, her seamed hose, black four inch pumps. All things she kept hidden in a closet of one of the spare bedrooms. She exercised regularly, was trim, colored her hair, and she looked ten years younger than her actual age.
Ronnie met her in the lobby, her face set in hard lines of anger and pain. There was no greeting.
She looked her mother over, noticing the dress, and her face got even harder.
"About damn time, Cinderella. Did you have a good time at the senior slut ball last night? Maybe win the prize for biggest whore?"
Juanita stepped back from her daughter, thinking she might actually strike her.
"Mind your tongue, young lady! How dare you speak to me like that."
Ronnie looked her up and down.
"Well, Mom, if the 'come fuck me' pumps fit, I guess you should wear them."
Her blush deepened. Ronnie was still at full volume and people were starting to stare. She took her arm, which she immediately shook off.
"Don't touch me, you slut!"
Juanita lost it and slapped her. She stood, horrified. What had she done?
Ronnie rubbed her cheek before she spoke again.
"Thanks, skank. I needed to calm down. The whole world doesn't need to know our dirty business. Come with us."
Phil had appeared at her side, and if looks could kill, Juanita would be on the floor. She could feel the anger in his body. They turned and headed down a hall to a small office, stopping at the door.
"Go in there. They'll give you the information on Dad's condition, since you were so concerned you haven't even asked me once."
They literally shoved her through the door.
Juanita stood before a woman who looked harried and tired. She looked up from her desk.
"May I help you? Please, take a seat."
Juanita sat gingerly. Josh took her ass last night, and she let him so infrequently she was sore. She smiled at the memory. She gave it to him as a special treat once in a while, it kept him in line. Juanita stared at the woman for a second.
"Yes, I hope so. I'm here to inquire about David Childers. Where is he? What's his condition? How soon can I see him? I was, er, out of town last night and didn't get the message. I came as soon as I could."
The woman fished through her files, and looked up, frowning. She called someone, and soon there was a doctor in the office. They both looked uncomfortable.
"Um, Mrs. Childers, I'm afraid you got some bad information. Your husband isn't in the hospital."
The doctor paused for a minute, he had always hated this part.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry to tell you your husband passed yesterday afternoon, a hiking accident, according to the report. Arrangements were made by your daughter to transport him back to your local funeral home. I thought your children told you. They were all here by midnight last night."
Juanita let out a small moan before she slumped down in the chair. The doctor checked her over, before summoning a nurse and instructing her to find the family. She came back with a note from Ronnie.
"You didn't need us when he was alive, I see no reason for us to be around now. If it was up to me I'd tell you to call Josh and have him comfort you. But Junior is in the lobby, waiting on you. Jane drove their car home."
That was it. Junior picked her up and drove her back home, refusing to speak or listen to her the whole way. Jane was waiting in the driveway. She didn't come into the house.
"Screw them all. They'll come to me after the will is read, hands out. Let's see how they treat me then."
THURSDAY AFTERNOON 5-19-11
It was a funeral the small town talked about for years. David was well liked, and the small church overflowed.
They all remembered the visitation, where Juanita sat on one side with the older grandchildren around her, and the siblings sat on the other. The line was long, and the mood somber, until Josh Randall appeared, hugged Juanita, and went over towards the children.
Joy came up in a rage.
"YOU BASTARD! YOU ACTUALLY HAVE THE NERVE TO COME HERE? GET OUT! NOW, OR I'LL TELL SECRETS."
His face turned bright crimson, and he practically ran out. It took three men to constrain Junior. Juanita fainted.
The same odd grouping occurred at the funeral.
Juanita rode in a limo with the three oldest grandchildren, while the siblings and their spouses rode in a limo together.
Sidney escorted Joy to the door of the limo and turned away, to be blocked by Junior.
"Where are you going? You're family now, and Joy needs you. Come on, sister in law, get in the car."
Sidney cried all the way to the cemetery, a mixture of sorrow and joy.
MAY 19-26, 2011
Juanita sat and brooded. Why were the children being so mean? Didn't they think she deserved happiness?
She was making a list of things to do. She thought it odd that she couldn't find any paperwork she needed in his little office. When she went to the bank and found the safety deposit box empty she had a mild panic attack. She had especially wanted his grandmothers jewelery, something he refused to get out of the box except for special occasions. She planned on wearing most of it all the time.
"Calm down" she told herself, "Phil probably knows where everything is. It'll all come out at the reading of the will. Then I'll take those snippy kids down a peg or two."
The reading of the will would be tomorrow. Josh had slipped over last night, and they spent four glorious hours together. He had taken the little blue pill, and they spent most of it in bed. Five orgasms, at least. She slept like a rock.
She sat gingerly, she had given up her ass again. He was becoming more demanding, sexually, since she was no longer attached. She found it charming. He had bit her breasts and thighs, leaving marks that couldn't be seen, marks that declared her his. After the will was read and she found out just how much she had, and he got his divorce, they were selling out and leaving town.
MONDAY AFTERNOON 5-23-11
Juanita actually had a spring in her step as she approached the office of Anne Johnson. It seemed odd at first that Phil didn't handle the will, but upon reflection she realized it made sense, avoiding conflict of interest.
She was greeted and ushered into a conference room. Anne came in and introduced herself. Juanita could feel her disdain in her voice and mannerism. It didn't matter, in an hour or two she would never have to see you again.
"Mrs. Childers, I am instructed by the terms of the will to have you view this video, it will answer a lot of questions before the actual reading of the will. It should take a little over thirty minutes. When you're done, have my receptionist get me, and we'll gather with the rest of the family to read the will. If you need water or anything else, she will get it for you."
With that Anne left the room.
"Gee, what's the problem?" she thought. "I guess I need to hear Hubby's last words."
She had to admit, she missed him more than she thought she would. Even if she didn't exactly love him like she should, she was attentive to most of his needs. He made her feel safe and comfortable. Lately the big farmhouse seemed too empty, and the creaks and groans of an old house settling as the temperature changed kind of unnerved her. Odd she had never noticed that while he was alive. She started the video. His face filled the screen.
"Juanita, if you're watching this, I'm already in the rest home. Two years, and you never noticed me degenerating. Oh well, I'm sure you had other things on your mind."
She blushed, she had been a little self centered.
"Things like fucking Josh Randall. Did you know he's probably the sperm donor for Joy? And Junior, I have no idea who his sperm donor is, but if you can remember, you need to tell him. If I've learned on thing from all this, it's that conditions like mine are genetically transferred.
The knowledge should be helpful should he ever need a kidney or something along that line."