THE 'JACKASS' NOTE:
He sent her a crazy note after New Year's Day. It made him chuckle. Told her that he'd scanned the police reports and didn't see her name or his name in those reports.
"So," he went on, "We must have not been too much out of control last night."
He was also sending her a medical note. It was, after all, the basis of their relationship. She was the go-between, the one to whom he reported facts and numbers. They'd been doing it, sending those notes back and forth for a while now.
He was a heart patient. Jack Winters had already lived through a heart attack at a rather young age, 43, which was followed by a quad bypass, and then, a while later, surgery for atrial fibrillation.
These days, of course, he felt great. He had ramped up his exercising and no laziness on his part could make him break off his devotion to exercising. His visits with his heart doctor seemed to confirm the progress that he was making.
She was, for Jack, not even a voice. She was a name in an e-mail address. She was the channel through which he reported things like BP and such to the doctor.
It started casually and for a long time she was only the name Jane Tierny attached to her e-mail address.
She had, initially sent him notes of encouragement. He appreciated that, especially, when he was recuperating. That had been a time when his sister, Gracie, took care of him.
He and she had always been close and her reaction to his heart attack, which had been a rather mild one, as it turned out, had been to simply take over caring for him.
They had both cooperated in taking care of Mom and Poppa, when each of those wonderful people, had gone into a final illness and then death. They'd kept both of them at home to take care of them. At the time Gracie was living about an hour away and Jack had his own apartment.
When things began to get serious, he and Gracie had talked about it and agreed that he should move back in with Mom and Poppa to do the caring.
Jack, a the time, ran the business that his Poppa had founded, and ran it well. He made sure that the right kind of management was in place that would give him some extra time to provide care for, initially, Poppa, who got sick first and then for Momma, who followed afterwards, once the down time and shock of the death of her Ray was finally a reality for her.
In the meantime, Gracie moved back into town, living at first with Jack and then, following an agreement that they both came to, moving into her own apartment.
Gracie was a lawyer and a good one, able to get a good job with a local firm, when she moved back to the area.
After taking care of Momma and Poppa, in a rather quick turn of events, it was Gracie's turn to take care of Jack, after his heart attack. It had happened on a day when, feeling particularly poorly, he'd made an appointment with the doctor and had the 'good sense', as he always claimed, to have the attack, while visiting the doctor.
He often enough wondered, when he allowed his thoughts to move in the direction of Jane Tierny, if she'd been there, when he had his heart attack.
It was only later, once he was in the process of maintaining a link between him and the cardiologist, Dr. Susan Swithers, that he came across, time after time, Jane's name, as the go-between, the one that he fed information to and who then reported to Dr Swithers.
They had developed a friendly kind of relationship. He often sent her funny notes, when they were corresponding, and she was always the voice of encouragement, where he was concerned.
Janie Tierny had no particular local ties. She'd come out of nursing school, having gone to a local university for her training and simply decided to stay in the area, which she liked. The climate was good and she'd met and befriended a number of people, especially other nurses who lived and worked locally.
She lived with two of her nurse friends in a rather large home that they rented, from the Aunt and Uncle of one of the other girls.
Jane was, at that time, a very pretty, dark haired 33 year old. She was petit, with small pointy breasts and a really lovely butt. She'd been a soccer player at the university and had the form and attitude of a runner and athlete. She dated periodically but not anyone seriously. It was, as a matter of fact, one of her quirks that she didn't want to be matched with anyone's cousin or the friend of a friend.
She'd grown up rather independent, especially since college and the death of her parents in an accident. That event had left her with no other family and enough resources to see herself into a calm and well formed future. She was even, at the time, thinking of getting her own house, and simply settling down in the town where she was working.
In the course of working, she'd met Dr. Swithers and the two of them had hit it off with each other. Gradually, after that, Jane had been offered the job that she currently had, woking as a kind of assistant to Dr. Swithers, taking care of patient correspondence and many other tasks. The relationship worked rather well for the two of them.
So, for Jack Winters, Jane Tierny was not even a voice. She was an e-mail address but he discovered that she seemed to have a good sense of humor, and their correspondence, though always or at least usually, beginning as a report on his health, developed into a pleasant one.
He'd sent that 'jackass' note, as he called it, after thinking about it a bit, to which her response was only a terse 'thanks', in reaction to his reporting of his BP.
It bothered him for the balance of his morning. Gracie had noticed it and asked him about it. He merely said to her that it was something that he had to think about. He didn't think that he was ready to talk to Gracie about it, and, in a part of his mind, he wasn't even sure that there was really anything to talk about anyway. He had to think.
His thinking led him to a decision and he sent her an apology for the note about the police reports and all.
He got a return from her rather quickly: "Oh, please don't apologize," the note began. "I thought that your e-mail was funny. It's just that I'm in a funk today. Sorry."
He thought only briefly and sent a note back: "Jane, what's wrong? And please feel free to tell me to mind my own bananas."
The note came back to him then: "Your bananas are fine!" It made him grin.
"Thanks, pal," he said in his response.
Then, after a number of minutes, he got an explanation from her. "This is funk time for me. It's the anniversary of the accident that killed my Momma and Poppa. It always, or at least usually, drags my spirits down a bit."
His return note commiserated: "I understand totally," it read. "I spent a good deal of my time in the past number of years taking care of the folks during what turned out to be a final illness for each of them, first it was Pop and then it was Momma."
"Yes," her note came back, "Then you do understand."
"Yes, I do," he wrote back to her. Then he added: "And so, I'm going to sing you a song. Pick one and I'll sing to you. I really have a nice voice — no really, I do —; so, pick a song and listen to me sing it to you."
The answering note was brief: "Love Sinatra; 'Second Time Around'."
"Singing it to you now, Janie Tierny," he wrote.
"Making me cry now," was her answer.
"Oh, is my voice that bad?" he wrote.
"Watch out, I'll get you, Bud!" came her answer.
"Oops," was his response.
Then he got a: "Thank you for the song; it was lovely and helped me out."
"Good," he wrote back to her. "Now back to being a high powered industrialist here."
"And a good balladeer," she wrote.
The exchange left him smiling, grinning.
TALKING TO GRACIE:
As a matter of fact, he did take some time that evening, while they shared dinner, to talk to Gracie about what had happened.
It was Gracie who brought it up, while they were eating.
"Okay, what?" she said.
"What?" he replied.
"Well," Gracie said next, "look at the way that you're brooding. Something's up and I just am wondering what it is."
"You're gonna think that I'm crazy," he said.
She laughed just a little and said: "No more than I already do."
That made him smile too.
"Let me explain," he said, and he went into all of it. He explained to her the way that the 'relationship' had begun with Jane Tierny and how it had developed. He also told her about the 'jackass' note that he'd sent today and how it had bothered him so much that he'd overstepped a kind of boundary.
He went on to explain what Jane's response had been about the time of year and then his note in return about singing a song for her.
He sighed, once it all had been explained.
She grinned at him then.
"I don't even know what she looks like," he wailed. "She might be 4'10" and weigh 300 lbs for heaven's sake."
Gracie just sat and smiled and let him go on about it and the stupid futility of it. She just kept on smiling, once he had 'run down' and stopped his spluttering.
He looked at his sister then and said: "What?"
"Now don't you get out of sorts with me over what you yourself did," Gracie said, still smiling.
"Will you please tell me what?" he said again then.
"It's just that I know Jane Tierny," she said very quietly.
"WHAT?" he fairly exploded. "YOU DO?"
""Yes," she said softly.
"You mean, I'm here in a kind of agony, a life crisis and all the while..."
"Yep," she said back to him, "That's right."
He put his head in his hands then and shook his head back and forth.
"And she's lovely," Gracie said.
Jack's head snapped up and he was totally attentive now.
"She is?" he asked.
"Yes," Gracie said, smiling now again. "She's dark haired and very, very nicely formed. A bit small in the boobs, but a great, great ass."
"Be careful," he said next, grinning at her, "You're talking about the woman that I love."
They both laughed then.
"Dark hair, eh?" he said.
"Yes, and a nice ass; did I mention that?" she replied.
"No, you forgot that little bit of information," he said back to her.
They sat for a few moments and he said: "I don't even know what my intentions are, or if I have any intentions about her at all. It's so crazy."
"Well," she said back to him then, being earnest now, "It certainly seems to have you in a state just now."
"Yes, it does," he said, "And I have to think about that."
"So, I won't tell her that you love her just yet?" she asked with a grin.
"Are we cruising for a bruising?" he asked politely.
"Not afraid of you, mister great lover," she said.
He shook his head then and said: "I've never even heard her voice, let alone seen her."
Then he looked up at Gracie and said: "Nice ass, eh?"
"Yep," Gracie said, "Nice ass."
"Good," was his final reply.
He had his BP taken the next day at his exercise place, which was associated with a major local hospital. He wasn't really sure that he needed to have it done but it at least then would give him an excuse to send an e-mail to Janie. He liked that idea.
The thought crept into his mind and kept revolving there: "Gracie said that she has a nice ass." He found that he liked that idea very much.
(Our friend Jack was definitely a 'bottom' man, where women were concerned.)
He sent a note that day: "Hi, sweetness and light; hope you're feeling brighter and better today. BTW: Bp was 118/68 today.)
He got a note back from her quickly: "Of course I feel brighter today, after all I was sung to so nicely!" She accompanied the note with a balloon happy face.
He sent a note back then: "Pick a song; what will it be today?"
"Oh, my crooner is back," came her reply. "How about 'The Girl From Ipanema'?"
"Right now!" he said.
"Oh, I can hear it!" she sent back to him.
Then he pushed the issue a bit further: "Do you know Gracie Winter?"
"Yes, I do," she texted back to him.
"She's my sister," he wrote.
"IS SHE?" came the enthusiastic reply with an added note: "I love her."
Before he could make any reply at all, she shot him a note with a happy face that said: "Don't you dare make that statement into anything."
"Oops," he sent back to her, though all the while he was still thinking of Gracie's comment about Jane Tierny having a nice ass.
There wasn't more, not at that time, at least but it certainly made Jack's outlook. It was noticed in the office and in the plant generally.
Of course, Jack was very easy to get along with; very laid back but these days, after his talk with Gracie and the brief exchange with Jane he was, what his secretary termed as 'chirpy'.
That got back to him and only made him smile.
His back and forth exchanges with Jane Tierny continued. He did, of course, have some medical information to send to her but found himself, in addition, making up all sorts of reasons to send her a note.
The amount of messaging did make him wonder at one point. He sent her a note: "Am I being a bother? Too much mail?"
Her note came immediately back: "A girl likes a little attention."
"Yes," he sent back, "But there are only so may times that I can have my blood pressure taken these days."
Her reply was: "Giggling."
"Oh," he sent back, "She giggles."
"Yes," came the reply, "You sing, I giggle."
"Okay," he said next, "Pick a song."
"Sing me 'the Second Time Around' again," came her reply.
Then chirpy Jack went out on a limb. He'd gotten her office number and called. He told the secretary, who answered the phone, that he was calling for Jane Tierny in Dr. Swithers office."
The secretary put him through and, as soon as she said 'hello', he began to sing 'the Second Time Around'.
"Oh," she said, once the song was finished, "It's my crooner."
"The very same," he said. "Hi, Janie Tierny; how are you?"
"Splendid," she said. "Just had the treat of the day from the brother of my friend Gracie Winters."
"Am I disturbing?" he asked.
"Now how can you imagine that you're disturbing, when you're calling me to sing to me?" Jane replied.
"Good," he said to her.
"Sound very happy," Jane said back to him.
"Yes," he replied, "They tell me these days that I'm 'chirpy'. That's the word that they used. They are used to bossy, and overbearing, and quick tempered but not chirpy. It has them all on edge."
"Don't believe a word of what you're saying about how you are at work. At least, if what Gracie tells me is true."
"Wait! Wait!" he said, "You've been slinking around behind my back and talking to my sister?"
She was giggling then and said: "You bet I have!"
"This is so special," he said then.
"Yes, Mr Crooner, tell me about that," she said.
"Well, up until now, you haven't even been a voice!" he said.
She giggled. "You know, you're right. It's all been texting and messages."
"It has," he said. "But now I can hear your voice and Gracie has told me secrets about you that make me positively grin."
"No you don't, Mr Chirpy," she said quickly. "Gracie is a love but doesn't know my secrets at all, and so, she's not been telling any of them to you. I know that."
"Rats," he said. "But now, since I sing to you; you tell me a secret."
"I'm really a man," she said softly, and he exploded.
"No you don't, Ms NotTellingTheTruthAtAll," he said quickly, as she was giggling over the phone.
"Will take it under advisement," she replied, barely suppressing her giggles, and will send you a text."
"Please," he said, "I'm in agony here."
"Hmmm," was her comeback, "Agony might just be a good sign."
"Oh dear!" he said. "I'm going to hang up now and go yell at the workers here."
"Bet you won't," she said, "Bye, crooner, and thank you."
"Secret!" was the last word he said into the phone and it left her giggling.
He got a note shortly after that: "Secret, secret, secret, what secret shall I tell you?" she mused.
"Not getting any work done here," he said.
"Mr Moping About, I bet," she replied.
"Yes, put me out of my misery," was he plea.
Next came the text: "Secret: don't shave and no tatoos."
"Wow!" he sent back to her, "That's two secrets! How great is that!"
"Now you," she texted to him.
He sent a note back immediately: "Do shave and tatoos everywhere."
"I'll get you Mr SmartA!" she warned.
"You have so many names for me," he said.
"And you fit everyone of them!" she texted.
"Secret:" he wrote now, "Sing in church choir."
"Not surprised," she texted. "What voice?"
"Oh, that's another secret; demand quip pro quo," he said.
"I wear Army boots," she texted. "Giggling now."
"I'll get u!" he warned. "Tenor."
"Back to work now, Mr Tenor," she texted.
"Next time around," he sent back to her, "I want to dance."
"Oh, I love to dance," she said.
A BUMP IN THE ROAD:
At least that's what Dr. Swithers called it, once they had a consultation. It seems that there was a problem at the plant and Jack got involved in it. It took some time to work through but eventually it was solved and Jack went back to his office and sat for just a bit. He decided to call it a day at that point and simply went home
That evening he spoke to Gracie about it just a bit but she had something that she had to do that evening and he ended up spending a quiet evening at home.
He was tired enough that evening to not even bother with the computer.
He woke the next morning and knew right away. As his atrial fibrillation increased and worsened, over the years, he could always tell, when it was happening.
He'd been warned by Dr. Sue Swithers that the surgery for it that he'd had was fairly inconclusive. She'd told him, in fact, that fully 50% of those who have the surgery do experience fibrillation again at some point.
That morning he knew that his heart was 'doing its dance' again. It left him tired and, when he checked, his heart rate was fairly elevated.
He was having coffee that morning, when Gracie called and he told her about it.
It was Gracie that took control then. She called off his day at the plant, telling his secretary that Jack wasn't feeling well, and then she contacted Dr. Swither's office to let them know.
Jack wasn't aware of the fact that Jane Tierny was the one who took the information for Dr. Swithers. It was the doctor's advice, when she leaned of the radical elevation of his heart beats per minute that Gracie take him to the ER and she'd be sure to check on him there. She also had the ER contacted that Jack was coming in.
They were ready for him, when he arrived.
He was there, when it happened. Gracie was with him in the exam room, and they'd hustled him into a dooly gown. He was sitting and waiting.
The door opened and a young woman entered. She stood there, as though for a minute she was rooted to the spot. Jack just looked at her.
Gracie glanced at Jack, realizing that he didn't know who it was that had come in. She herself spoke then and said: "Hi, Jane; don't think you're actually ever met my brother Jack."
"No," the woman said softly, and then Jack knew.
As he looked at the pretty, dark haired woman, he noticed that she had tears running down her cheeks.
"Janie," he said to her softly and she came across the room to him and into his waiting arms.
"Ohh," she wailed. "Heard it was you and had to come and see, to find out."
"Hi, pretty Janie," he said. "Bit out of rhythm here. Dr doesn't seem to be worried terribly about it."
"I know," Janie said. "But I was."