Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Assisted Living", Part Eight

Lorraine’s not coming back, he thought. And the septic man, even if he came, wouldn’t come until the roads were plowed and a phone call confirmed the time.
He lifted again; pain shot up his leg -- just like the time he got a jolt from the workbench’s fluorescent starter. He held his breath until the sting subsided. He lay quietly to let the shock pass. He began to shiver.

He heard a chirping. Bird in the attic? No, phone in the kitchen. Of course, there was no way to reach it. It stopped after four trills. “Can’t come to the phone right now,” he heard the phone say. “Leave a name and numbah.”

Maybe it was the surveyor, or the septic man, or Lorraine saying she got back ok. Yes, it had to be her; it’d been about an hour, the timing was right. It wasn’t likely she’d call again and wonder if something was wrong. If she did, she couldn’t drive back, not in this weather. Who would she call locally? The realtor? The septic man? Assisted Living? “Could you please run out to Mill Road and check on my father? He’s not answering the phone, no matter when I call. Yes, I know how bad the roads are.”

“Hello, Miss Randall? It’s Pete, the septic guy? Look, I found your dad in the garage this mawnin’. Looks like he took a bad fall. Nope, didn’t make it. Exposuh.”

Not him, no sir. Oziel pressed himself up. The wind howled with him. Hardly an inch. He rested. Even if he could move a few inches at a time, how could he cross the driveway? If he stayed, could he close the heavy door? A little drift was forming there. Could he possibly stay the whole night, and light the heater? No, he used the last match. Should have asked for matches, not a microwave. That’s what I really needed.

No, he corrected himself, shouldn’t have asked for nothin’. It’s all a gift. He hadn’t asked for the gloves, or the jacket, or the rubbers; they just showed up when he needed them. Sometimes we notice, sometimes not. It was as though a light came on. It brightened. A blast of frigid air swept his hair back and he squeezed his eyes shut against the Light that suddenly filled the room. The garage door rumbled, and a Voice called to him:

“Dad? My God, what happened?”

“Lorraine?” Oziel heard the Volvo purring. The halogen headlamps blazed gloriously.
Oziel blinked in disbelief. “I thought you were home; the phone rang—“

“That was me, calling from my cell,” she said, genuflecting beside him. “The weather’s worse down south. They closed the interstate in Worcester. I called to say I needed to come back.”

Oziel gripped her warm hand. “Yes, you did.”

The End.

John's new mystery novel, "Bleeder," will be released by Sophia Institute Press in August 2009 and will be available at as well as in bookstores.

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