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Here is Chapter 1.  Enjoy.  I’m glad you stopped by.

PART ONE   

CHAPTER 1

The phone rang and rang and rang.  An automated voicemail answered the call.  James McDougal ended the call without leaving a message.  He had left three in the last fifteen minutes.  The clock read ten after eight.  His mother should have answered her phone already.  She was to keep the phone on her at all times.  That was part of the agreement she made with him and his sister, Jessica.  He or Jessica would call her every night at eight.  He hoped she was just being stubborn.  When she was in her stubborn mood she would not answer her phone.  Her excuse was that the phone’s volume had been mysteriously turned all the way down.  Her excuse for not returning a call was that she did not know how to listen to her voicemail.

James held the phone and glanced at the clock.  It was getting late.  She was eighty-eight.  Too old to be acting like an adolescent.  He was going to have a talk with her.  One more stunt like that and she was moving out of her house.  He and Jessica would take turns caring for her in their homes.  He pressed the phone icon with her number next to it.  It rang three times and went to voicemail.  “Mother,” he said.  “You need to call me back.  You’re worrying me.  I’m calling Jessica to go check on you when I hang up.  You’re not leaving me any choice.  Bye Mother.  Love you.  Call me.”

James smiled and looked at his phone.  That will get her to call him.  Jessica was not the first person their mother wanted to check up on her.  Jessica was bossy.  ‘Take control’ was how she saw herself.  Their mother saw her differently.  She thought Jessica liked to push people around.  She had asked Jessica more than once how she became a bully.  And, was she a bully in school?  That irritated Jessica to be accused of being a bully.  But, that was just how they got under each other’s skin.

James looked at the phone.  It had not rung.  He wanted to call Jessica.  But she was at the theater with her husband, Ben.  He would leave the theater without hesitating to check on their mother.  He was a good man with a big heart—a caring man.  Jessica would leave the theater, too.  But she would be angry when she got to their mother’s.  She would be angry on the ride there.

James pushed another icon.  A ring came from the other end.

“Hi Hon,” Elizabeth said.  She and James had been married for thirty-four years.  She thought he was going to tell her he was sorry for running later than he thought he would.  Then he would tell her how he was going to make it up to her.  His dinner had been in the oven staying warm for over an hour.

“I hate to ask you this,” he said.  “But can you drive by and check on Mother.  I’ve called her eight times.  She won’t pick up.  My guess is her landline phone is off the hook.  And her cell phone is somewhere else.  Jessica told me yesterday that she would be at the theater with Ben tonight.  I probably should’ve still called her.  She’s our mother.  Not yours.  Although, you treat her like she’s yours.  Anyway, I can wait until I’m finished here to run by.  But, that—”

“I already said yes,” Elizabeth said, loudly.

“You did?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.  “You wouldn’t stop talking.  I was getting my coat and putting on my shoes while you were talking.  I’m sure it’s nothing.”  She took her keys from the basket on the counter where they put them each night.  “I’ll drive over and call you when I get there.  She’s probably in her defiant mood.”

“Well if she is, I’m letting her know that she’s about to move into an assistant living facility, or into those condos for people her age,” he said, irritated.  “We’re too far away for her to pull this.  Don’t forget to take that big flashlight.  I know she has outdoor lights.  But sometimes she turns them off, saying she can’t sleep because they’re too bright.  It gets pitch-black around her place when she does that.  So, take that big flashlight.  It’s under my side of the bed.  When you get there, if anything looks strange, call the police.  Don’t investigate.  I know you.  I’m really upset with her about this.  I’m not kidding.  She’s moving.”

“You’re being paranoid,” she said.  “I’ll take the flashlight.  But stop the paranoia.  I’ll be okay.  I’m sure she’s okay.  Don’t jump the gun.  She’s old and wants to keep her independence.”  She went into their bedroom and knelt down and reached under the bed.  Her hand searched for the flashlight and grabbed it.  She walked back to the front door, opened it and walked outside.  She closed the door and turned the knob to make sure it was locked.

“Don’t forget,” she said, walking to her car.  “In twenty years we could be doing what she’s doing while our kids are telling us what to do.  Twenty years goes by fast.  So, cut her some slack.”  She pressed the key fob and unlocked the Lexus and got inside.  She shut the door.  “Our kids have probably picked out the place where they’ll put us.”  James mumbled that he doubted it.  “Just give what I said some thought.  I’m letting you go so I can drive.”

“Thanks, Hon,” he said.  “I’ll keep calling her.  If I get her, I’ll call you.  I owe you.”  He hated asking her to go out to his mother’s alone.  It was a safe neighborhood.  But still, she should not be going out there alone that late.

“Yes, you do,” she said.  “Stop worrying.  Bye.”

 

I hope you enjoyed Chapter 1.  Chapter 2 will be posted in a few days.

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