Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Chapter Forty

When Harold and Pete got home the message light on the answering machine was flashing. It indicated there were twelve messages.

“Do you remember how many messages there were when we left, Pete?”

Pete smiled. His father always needed to know how many new messages there were before he started listening. Most of the calls were from concerned friends. A couple from the media. There was one recorded message from some politician asking for their support. Harold deleted that it. The next message was for Abby. It took Harold a moment to place the name. Then he remembered that she was the woman who Fanny sponsored – the one who was married to the nut case.

“Fanny. This is Abby. Call me back. It’s important.”

The next message was also from Abby.

“Fanny. It’s Abby. I really need to talk to you. Richard is dead. He was killed yesterday morning in a car crash. I should have called you sooner but I have been so confused. I know I should be feeling sad, Fanny, but all I feel is relief. I can’t tell that to anyone else but I know you understand. On Tuesday night I told him I was going to leave him…like you and I talked about. He went nuts. I thought he was going to kill me. I threw him out of the house. That was the last time I saw him. Fanny, please call me. I really need to talk to you.”

Harold and Pete were staring at the answering machine. “Wow, Pop. What was that all about? It’s been a crazy week.”

“Yeah. It has. That’s the woman your mother sponsors. I guess I’m blowing her anonymity, but you heard the message. Her husband was in the program too. I knew him from my Thursday night meeting. He talked all the time about his wife and how worried she was that she was going to leave him. I was a little nervous about your mother getting all involved because this Richard had a reputation for being violent.”

“Sounds like he met a pretty violent end. Are you going to let Mom know?” Pete was busy opening a can of food for a very excited Arlo. “There you go, big guy. You’re not getting as much attention as you’re used to are you?”

Harold thought considered Pete’s question while he watched Arlo wolfing down his food. “I don’t know what to do. At this point your mother wouldn’t even remember Abby. At the same time I feel like someone needs to call her back.”

“Dad, Mom is still Mom. Even if she can’t remember people and events she still possesses all the qualities and instincts that make her who she is. I think she would want to be given the opportunity to call Abby. Who knows? It might help her start remembering.”

“Well you’re the future doctor. I’ll sleep on it. How’s that? When are you planning on heading back to Charlottesville?”

Pete took the leash off the hook causing Arlo to break into an excited dance in the middle of the kitchen. “I thought I’d head back tomorrow after lunch. I want to see Mom again before I go.” He studied his father’s face for any reaction. “Of course, I’ll stay here as long as you and Mom need me.”

“No. It’s been great having you here, but you should be getting back to your classes. You’re only a couple of hours away. I was thinking of taking your Mom down to Mill Creek as soon as they give her a clean bill of health. I think it might be better for her there.” Harold was ashamed to admit to his son that he was also worried about the bilge pump on the Chris Craft and he needed to talk to his mechanic about winterizing both boats. He knew he shouldn’t be worried about boats after everything Fanny had been through, but that was just the way he was wired. He was the worrier. Fanny was the calming influence. She had to get better soon. He was really lost without her.

“I’ll see you in the morning, Pete. I’m exhausted. Good night, Arlo. Be a good guy and don’t pull.” Harold headed unhappily upstairs to an unmade bed.



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