Decisive Chapter 2

Chapter 2 On Notice

I needed to get to work and decide how I was going to deal with this situation. Mark said he would stop by my office at 1:15 so he could have a chat with Glenn. I arrived at my office earlier than usual 8 am the bank did not open until 9 am. My phone had a message on it, I pressed play all messages:

“Ms. Lawrence, I realize you are an educated person and you follow the rules implicitly. Let me advise you so you are aware what the consequences will be if you push me too far. Your dear neighbor Clair will need a go-fund for her medical expenses. When I married Clair I did not know about her financial problems with her parents’ mortgage and her own credit card debt. This fund will help her pay her debt to them and me.”

My first thought was an expletive rant. I saved the message so I could play it back for Mark. While I was mulling over how to handle this I wanted to also finish up some legitimate paperwork so my afternoon would be clear.

In a split second life can change in someone’s life, there is an ill-fated decision some make when you feel you have no control, all you can do is stand your ground or find a way to get out of the way.

My desk was neat which cleared my desk for the rest of the day. It was almost noon some of the tellers were taking their lunch break; I was having my fourth cup of coffee. That hum started to gnaw at me again I turned to my office window and I saw the truck coming at me at full speed. Just as I lurched out of the way I heard a gunshot. Mark was standing on the sidewalk; he had shot the back window out of the truck and the back tire. The truck hit my window pushing my desk across the room. Glass had cut my cheek hot coffee scalded my hand but all in all I was okay.

Glenn was pulled out of the truck and placed in handcuffs. Mark came over to check on me and I said to him: “I wonder if Clair is okay.”

Mark leaned back on his heels and called into dispatch. They sent a patrol car over to the house. She was nowhere to be found. Glenn was asked repeatedly what he did with Clair. He continued to say he did nothing to Clair.

This was one time I did not get a hum. My hope was Clair took off to get away from her husband and hopefully, she will emerge, happy and healthy ready for a better relationship.

It took a week to find Clair. Clair indeed had fled her husband’s grasp. She was staying near the hospital with a friend. I started to put some of the pieces together when I found out Clair worked at the hospital as a nurse’s aide. What bothered me was Mark had come up with dirt on Clair. Clair had many scams going to make extra money. She sold drugs stolen from the hospital pharmacy and she was addicted to Oxycodone.  Sadly this young woman made disastrous decisions.

I believe we each have the power to decide right from wrong. We all need to be decisive. We especially have to remember our decisions have consequences; each consequence is our debt to pay. Clair’s debt is 10 years without parole.



Decisive Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Go-Fund

I work in the branch office of our local bank. My education affords me many perks, one of which is to pick and choose where I work. My superiors wanted me to work at corporate headquarters; I prefer the slower pace and homey feel at the branch level. I get a chance to see my neighbors helping them with any difficulties they may have financially and guide them to retirement through investments.

I have noticed lately many are dipping into their savings because of medical bills or may be helping another family member there are many reasons. I always try to steer them from doing this if at all possible. Another trend that has recently evolved is the go fund. This needs to be policed carefully being that there is a great opportunity for fraud.

One late afternoon just before the end of the day a young couple came into my office to open a Go-Fund account. I have known Clair since she was in grade school. Her parents passed a year apart from each other she was left with the house and a large mortgage while still attending her first year of college. Clair smiled and shook my hand as she introduced me to her husband Glenn. I gestured to the two chairs in front of my desk, we simultaneously sat down. I had not seen Clair in some time; Glenn was the first to speak explaining the reason for the go-fund account. Clair teared up as Glenn explained about their young son of 4 having bone cancer, the medical bills, transportation has nearly bankrupted them.

I get a little hum in my head when something seems tenuous. The last time I saw Clair was 3 years ago at her dad’s funeral; at that time she had neither children nor a husband that she spoke of. I broached the question carefully asking if this was Glenn’s child thus he would be Clair’s step-child. Clair straightened up and said: “No, he is our son, why do you ask?”

I answered: “I ask because when I saw you last was at your dad’s funeral, there was no mention of a marriage or a child in your life.”

Her shoulders slumped and she said: “Oh.” She paused a moment and then added: “Glenn and I were having problems at the time, so much was going on I just did not want to talk about it.”

I nodded yet still that hum warned me in the back of my head that something just wasn’t right about this. I used the excuse that it was near closing and that I needed to get all the paperwork in order. I asked if they could come back the following day so we could finalize the account. We agreed to meet at 1 pm the following day.

Before I get involved with helping them set up a Go-Fund account I want to be sure their charity is legit. My first task would be to find out if they truly have a son that is sick. I made a few calls to people I know such as a doctor friend John Lut. John agreed to do some checking I then contacted a friend of mine Mark Trenton, Mark is a police officer he also knows Clair and he too was surprised to hear that Clair is married and has a 4-year-old son.

Early the following morning I received a phone call from John he told me that there was, in fact, a young boy by the name of Butch Marsh but his birth certificate had the parents’ names as Greg and Marcia Marsh.

John said: “Your hum is paying off again Crystal.”

“I hate when I get these feelings, especially when it concerns someone I know.”

I called Mark after I finished my conversation with John. Mark pickup on the first ring.

“Good Morning Crystal. When are you going to have dinner with me?” Mark asked

“Will you settle for breakfast? We need to talk.” I said

We met up at our local Big Boy. Mark filled me in on Glenn’s dubious background. Glenn had a rap sheet a mile long, drugs, larceny, domestic violence. My ears perked up when he said domestic violence. Mark saw my recoil when that was mentioned he nodded his head and said: “Yes the domestic violence was directed at Clair. Glenn came home from work sat down to have a beer  while Clair was preparing dinner. He did not like what she chose to make for dinner nor did he like the fact the laundry was not put away. He decided to treat her to a choking. A neighbor called the police when he looked through their dining room window and saw Glenn had picked Clair up off the floor by her throat.”

I was sickened and saddened by this news.



The Summer Star

The Summer Star

Each summer I go back to the beach where I went every summer with my parents, I lay out a blanket stretch out under the night sky. I search for that one star that stands out amongst all the rest. I know that is Charlie with his winning smile telling me all is well with him. My heart aches now still even after 10 years since his death. We were just kids screwing around playing in the water that day. It was right after a storm the waves were still raging as the sky was clearing. It was fun to stand and let the large waves hit us and rock us back and forth. There were times the waves knocked us over.

The thunder had moved on but we could still hear it in the distance. Being kids we ignored the saying “If you can hear it you can be struck by it.” We thought it was nonsense. I retreated to the beach before Charlie. Charlie jumped up trying to leap over the oncoming wave. I laughed when it took him down. Charlie was walking back to shore when I heard the clap of thunder, the expression on Charlie’s face occurred in slow motion. The pain, Charlie fell to his knees just as he reached the sand. They pronounced him dead on the scene. The lightening that was heard and not seen.

I became a Meteorologist because of that day. Each year I make it a point to visit schools and share my story. Invariably one of the kids and even an adult will say.

“You cannot be struck by lightening on a sunny day.”

Myth: It’s not raining here, and skies above me are clear, therefore I am safe from lightning.

Fact: Lightning can strike many miles away from the thunderstorm. If storms are in your area, but skies happen to be clear above you, that certainly does not imply you are safe from lightning. Though these “Bolts from the Blue” are infrequent, lightning strikes 10 to 15 miles away from the storm are not out of the question.

Being a Meteorologist helps with my survivor guilt, it gives me an outlet and allows me to do my penance. I loved Charlie I dreamt one day he and I would get married and have kids of our own. We were 13 and were intimately acquainted with each other. He was my first and thus far only love.

I drove slow on my way back home deciding to have the windows down to dry the tears as I drove. I cannot seem to take this trip without mourning all over again. My ritual was to stop at the small ice cream parlor on my journey. I always order the same thing Charlie and I would share a Root Beer Float.

I passed the road sign directing me to the parlor as I slowed down to make my turn the oil light flickered on my dash. There was a gas station next to the ice cream parlor I decided to pull in there first and see if someone could take a look.

As I stopped my car a gentleman came sauntering over wiping his greasy hands. He leaned toward my window and asked: “Can I help you?”

I told him what had happened and he motioned for me to pop the hood. He checked my oil and told me I was a quart low he also suggested I get the car checked for a leak. I told him I would when I get home. He poured in the quart to top me off, I filled my tank with gas then pulled over to get my Root Beer Float.

Tonight I promised myself I would move on and not come here to beat myself up every year. While I was lying on that blanket under the stars a thought warmed my soul “You can see me in any night sky anywhere you are.”

The Bench

The Bench

The Bench

I see many different derrieres each day and they all have a story. Sometimes the only part of the story I receive is what they had to eat last. My job is not always easy as I sit here dealing with the elements nature brings to me and the tushes that bring a hefty weight to my world.

Christine’s tush started out small but over time it expanded as did her life. When she first came here to sit she would cry. Her husband was an abusive sort but as time moved on so did she. Her life expanded to include a good man, step-children, and grandchildren. Within this menagerie of life, she also included rescue dogs to weave their wags into her family’s lives.

Katty’s tush has not expanded yet her life is full with a good husband and her propensity for Weinheimer dogs. For some reason, Katty prefers male dogs. They lift their legs and leave pee-mail for the next dog to read. This is not to say that Katty did not sit here and shed tears. Her grief was palatable when her sweet Easy passed over the rainbow bridge. My steady frame held her grief.

Monica’s was the last tush in this park that I held. Hers did a yo-yo of small to big back to small. She seemed to always be in a flux, from one relationship to another. Each one would bring tears than joy the last one brought more of a burden than I could hold. It was a hot summer evening Monica came and sat down heavily. Not that her tush was large this was one of those times it was small but as she worked on the half gallon of ice cream I could tell there was going to be an expansion. The parking lot is not far from where I am. A truck pulled up, Monica looked up from her grieving remnants of ice cream. I could feel the fear tense in her body. She did not move just sat holding the carton of ice cream so tightly that it started to ooze down the front of her shirt and dripped onto me. I hate when that happens it draws ants. A male’s voice called out some derisive words. Monica still did not move. I wanted to tell her to get behind me I would shield her. It was too late, the shots rang out one hit Monica one hit me. Blood mixed with the ice cream dripped down the seat and then down my leg. I wish I could have shielded her.

The police came and dug the bullet out of me; paramedics covered Monica head to toe. I wish I could tell them about the truck and the man with the gun but all I have is shoulders which hold the burdens of all who sit. The park attendant was kind enough to hose me off but the one thing he could not clean away was the loss of a soul on my watch. I will never know if the man that took Monica’s last breath away from this earth was caught but I was glad to hear I was going to be retired.

I was glad to be moved from the park when the park did a cleanup to update the grounds. I retired to a nice back yard at Christine’s house. She wanted me there to hold whatever came to her family. Thus far I have held Christine as she sipped wine.I let Christine’s dog Wilma sit on me while she was mending from surgery and her granddaughter Madison who is learning about life in her grandmother’s garden. I know one day I will hold her son as he grieves the loss of his mother but right now it is love and joy that I will hold until I am needed for more.

Ice Storm Chapter 2 Friends with Benefits

Ice Storm Chapter 2

Friends with Benefits


Esther and I have been seeing each other for a couple of months now. Stan and I have become friends. I laughed when Stan met Hans Krause. On the last Friday of the month, Hans Krause takes over the kitchen. He makes the best Chinese food I have ever eaten. Before moving into this facility Hans owned a Chinese restaurant. All his customers were surprised when they met Hans. By his name, you picture a burly blue eyed German man but what you see is a slight built oriental.  When I asked him if his father was of German descent he said “No. When I came to this country I stood in line at immigration, when it was my turn the gentleman asked me what my name was I said: “Sam Ting” he wrote down Hans Krause. The fellow before me was named Hans Krause. I did not notice the error till I got home. I did not want to stand in line to correct the mistake, I kept the name.”

Tonight Esther and I are going to a movie matinee then an early dinner. The movie was a romantic comedy called “How to lose a guy in 10 days” I was not fond of the movie but Esther was taken with Matthew McConaughey.

I walked Esther to her room once. I call it a date even though she pays her own way. I was surprised when Esther invited me in.

“Henry, please come in and stay for a while,” Esther said

I sat on an overstuffed plaid love seat. Esther went to her refrigerator and came over to where I was sitting with an aerosol can of whipped cream. She sat next to me and said: “This is my greatest weakness. Have you ever been pleasured with whipped cream?” She asked

I said no as I was taking off my pants and shirt. She disrobed and told me to sit down. She sprayed the whipped cream on me and began to remove it gently ever so gently. Oh my, it was wonderful. She had me nuzzle and nibble her while her head was tilted back she slowly ate the remainder of the whipped cream until there was only air left which she also sucked in.

After we showered and dressed I said: “I really like this friend’s with benefits.”

Esther laughed while she walked me to the door. There was no kissing goodbye but our eyes met and we both knew we cared deeply for each other. Once I arrived at my room I realized I never got a look at the tattoo. I made a mental promise to take a look next time.

I waited the next morning for Esther to come to breakfast. Stan came to the table I told him he was welcome to join us. Stan just stared at me and finally said: “Henry, you haven’t heard what happened last night?”

“No? What happened last night?”

“Esther was found dead in her room. This morning I heard the autopsy showed she drowned. They call it dry drowning. There was whip cream in her lungs of all things.” Stan said

I just sat there with tears running down my cheeks. I was speechless and crushed. Just then we heard a commotion in the foyer. Men with jackets that said ICE on the front and back came through the doors. The administrator said: “Hans Krause is in his room”

One man said: “We want to also speak to Henry Gruber.”

A knot tightened in my stomach wondering what they wanted with Hans and me. The administrator pointed in my direction and said: “That is Henry Gruber.”

By then another man had Hans Krause in cuffs. The man who seemed to be in charge said: “Un-cuff him that cannot be the Hans Krause we are looking for. How in the world did you get that name, Mr. Krause?”

Hans went through his story the man said: “Let me suggest you change your name to Sam Ting.”

I am too old to run so I sat in my seat and decided to take what’s coming to me like a man.

“Mr. Gruber? Do you have any identification on you such as a passport or driver’s license?” the man asked

“I have my identification in my room. If you would like to follow me I will get them for you.” I said

I knew what they were after and was hoping they were not through so I could move to another facility. Unfortunately for me once they read my Brazilian passport they knew they had the real Hans Krause. They arrested me for war crimes.

Stan visited me in prison once. I asked him to do me a huge favor, while he is at the funeral find out what is tattooed on Esther’s wrist. He sent a card and said: “The tattoo said “Kid Rock”



Ice Storm Chapter 1

Ice Storm Chapter 1



“Hello Stan, welcome to the Bridge community. You will like it here there are so many things to do. They have a movie matinée daily right before dinner. There are therapy dogs that come to visit each week, also chapel on Thursday, hair stylist for cuts and a shave, someone comes in to read to you if you have problems seeing. “Henry Gruber said

Stan answered: “Thanks, Henry. How long have you been here?”

“My daughter dumped me here 5 years ago. She married a man that I do not approve of. This was her way to distance herself from her horrible father. I actually like it here I was bored living at her house.” Henry said

“That is awful what some families do to their elders. Karma will happen to the evil that men and women do. We are called to care for children and the elderly.” Stan remarked

“You are so right Stan I like the way you think. We will get along just fine. Are you interested in meeting some of the ladies I will point out to you which ones to stay away from?” Henry replied

“I haven’t met a woman I wanted to stay away from. They are my Achilles tendon. Definitely my weak spot.” Stan said

Just then Margie stepped into the dining room wearing a light pink dress; she had a white purse and wore white cotton gloves.

Henry said: “Now there is one that you will take out for a meal and a movie but she will not reciprocate any of your advances.”


Stan said: Oh Henry, don’t tell me you tried something on the first date?”

“Of course I spent $30 dollars on that woman. We went to the Ponderosa for lunch I rented a video and even bought her daisy’s to put in a vase. I expect something for my money. Don’t you?” Henry said

Stan laughed and said: “Actually I like the challenge of a girl who knows her worth. I had enough bimbos in my time I am ready for a challenge.”

I enjoyed my conversation with Stan. At first, I was disappointed in his response to my approach to women, but once I thought about it, he may be on to something. I will mull it over and see if I can have more success in between the sheets.

There is a woman that I have been eyeing lately she has copper hair, long limbs and she wears wispy dresses all the time. I noticed a small tattoo on her wrist but have not gotten a close enough look to see what it says. She always wears a large watch or bracelet over it. When she is walking around outside I noticed she hums a little tune. She seems content with herself and her life, so I think I will try Stan’s approach.

The following afternoon I noticed the woman I wanted to meet. I strolled up next to her and introduced myself: “Hello my name is Henry Gruber. Do you mind if I walk with you?”

Her smile was soft and gentle as was her voice: “Hello my name is Esther Shapiro. Yes, you may walk with me I would love the company.”

We walked quietly for a few moments. I started to feel increasingly comfortable with her. We started to chat about the facility, movies, kids, family, and the lousy food in the cafeteria.

I ask her if she had any plans for dinner, she said no. I said I was considering ordering Chinese food and have them deliver it. She agreed to have dinner with me if we could go Dutch.

I said: “I have no problem with you paying for your own food I tend to be cheap.”

Esther laughed and said: “I do not date I would like to have dinner with you as a friend.”

For some reason that seemed okay with me, having dinner with a friend.

Maybe Stan did have an influence on me. I am not sure I like it but what the heck, it’s never too late to make changes, self-improvement is a good thing no matter what age.

We met in the dining room to have our dinner. Several of the residents stopped by wondering what we were eating. By the time we were done eating others were sitting with their orders of Chinese food, pizza and some were eating the mystery meatloaf served in the dining room.

Esther agreed to meet me for breakfast the next morning. The cooks at the facility did a good breakfast it is hard to screw up eggs or oatmeal for that matter. Esther had oatmeal and a banana with coffee; I had one egg over hard, 3 rashers of bacon toast and a coffee.

“Henry, do you eat eggs and bacon every morning?” Esther asked

“No, sometimes I swap the bacon for link sausage or have the cook do a ham and cheese omelet. I have never had a weight problem nor high cholesterol.” I said

She nodded politely but I could tell she was not in favor of such a breakfast. It finally dawned on me her last name being Shapiro she may eat Kosher.

“Esther? Does what I eat offend you?” I asked

“Oh my no Henry, I am sorry if I gave you such an impression. My husband died of heart disease it makes me sensitive to such breakfast choices.” Esther said

After breakfast, Esther and I went for a walk. I reached for her hand and was pleasantly surprised she did not pull it away. We arrived at the park sat on a bench. We watched people in the park and made a game of guessing what the person does for a living, if they are married, have kids. Joggers approached with the clapping of their shoes on the path, huff and breath sound as they pass and the clapping becomes distant as they disappear from view.

All and all a very nice start to a friendship. I hope it leads to more.



Don’t move the Furniture Chapter 7

Don’t Move the Furniture
Chapter 7 Sybil

Sybil called Elizabeth every day, I presumed it was just to converse and feel connected. A month into our marriage Elizabeth asked me, “Morty I am concerned about Sybil. She doesn’t seem happy. Her husband Charles works a lot of hours which leaves Sybil home alone with the kids. It seems as though she is raising the kids alone. I want to help somehow; I get this dark feeling something is not right.”

I said: “It can be pretty dicey to meddle into someone else’s marriage but maybe a girl day and have a chat over lunch.”

Glad you said that. It is exactly what I was thinking; you just confirmed how I should go about this.” Said Elizabeth

Since Sybil could not get a babysitter I volunteered. I found it funny no one was concerned about leaving the kids with me. They probably would have been had they spoken to Connor first before saying yes.

I know I will have to keep them away from those special brownies; I am sure we can find something fun to do. All elders love when children come for a visit.

Sybil arrived with Jeff and Matilda. The introductions were made and once Sybil and Elizabeth left Jeff spoke up and said; “I am the oldest so I should say what we should do today.”

I looked him directly in the eyes and said: “You must not know all your numbers. I am the oldest and I will say what we will do today.”

Matilda laughed and punched her brother and said: “Mom told you he wasn’t any push over see you should have listened.”

Of course the conversation melted into the shut up one up- man-ship.

I put a stop to it by saying: “Shut up both of you mutts!”

Jeff scowled at me and said: “Were not dogs!”

I said: “You do what I say. If I tell you to bark then you better bark.”

Matilda said: “You can’t make us bark!”

I laughed and said: “Oh I have my ways by the time I am done with you; you will be chasing your tails and barking.”

By the looks on their faces they were convinced I was crazy enough to do just about anything.

Now that we had the pecking order established we started out for the activities center.

As soon as we walked in the door there was a round of awes and oh’s, aren’t they cute. Neither Jeff nor Matilda was impressed with the attention until I took them into the exercise room. They each took turns on the machines until they got bored. Jeff was the first one to say he was hungry. I took them to the dining room, sat them at a table and walked over to the kitchen and asked Mark if he could give us some soup and grilled cheese. I like this facility they are so accommodating, especially when there are children involved.

We finished lunch; I then took them over to the gaming room where we could watch a card game. Jeff said he was good at poker, he sat down at a table and asked if there was anyone who wanted to play a game of poker. Two guys sat down and the game began. By the time they were done each man gave all their nickels to Jeff. I patted Jeff on the back and congratulated him. To my surprise he shared his winnings with his sister. Later I found out it was hush money since Sybil did not want him playing poker.

I called Elizabeth to ask how much longer they would be, she said probably an hour. I told her no problem I could find one more thing to keep them occupied.

I took the kids into the gathering room where everyone goes just to kick back and chat. I said to them; “I am going into the library to see if there is a book I could read to you. Your mom and Aunt Elizabeth will be back in an hour. They both nodded their heads as I walked away. It took me longer than I thought it would. By the time I got back Jeff and Matilda were on the floor playing with something. At first I had no idea what they were playing with until Mel walked over and said: “They looked bored so I figured they would have fun playing with some of the toys I had in a box.”

The first thought that came to mind was “Oh Shit.”

Just then Lucy came around the corner with a plate full of brownies. I put up my hand and said: “Lucy you will not corrupt these kids.”

Lucy laughed and said: “OH, Morty these are kid recipe brownies.”

I answered: “Okay I was just making sure since I am their step grandfather now.”

Lucy also had single cartons of milk to go with the brownies. I patted her on the back and said: “I bet you are the best grandma around.”

Lucy said: “Oh thank you Morty that means so much to me.”

Just as the kids finished their brownies and milk I received a text from Elizabeth saying they were home. On the way back to the condo my gut when in a knot when both kids started to chatter up a storm about their dad and how he likes to keep secrets. I knew I was in trouble so I asked what kind of secrets. Jeff said: “The one about the lady who stopped by our table at Chucky Cheese and asked directions to dad’s office because she said she must be in the wrong spot since the man taking care of her file was not at his office like he said he would be.”

My first thought was, I am going to kick his fathers ass.

We walked in the door Jeff was still chattering. I stopped listening 5 minutes ago. Sybil spoke up and asked: “What did you do to my kids?”

I shrugged and said, “ Lucy said they were Children recipe brownies.”

Elizabeth bust out laughing. Jeff finally shut up and laid on the floor and went to sleep. Matilda was snoring on the sofa.

Sybil said: “I thought your Daughter in law Kay Lee was joking. You really are a pain in the ass.”

I handed Sybil Connor’s business card and said: “Jeff and Matilda was chatty on the way back here. I believe you may need some legal counsel.”

Sybil looked at the card and then back at me and said: “Aunt Liz already gave me a card thank you I have an appointment in 15 minutes. Hope you do not mind having the kids for a little while longer?’

No I don’t mind looks like they will be sleeping off the brownies.” I answered

Before I leave what was Jeff going on about vibrating toys?” Sybil asked

I shrugged looked over at Elizabeth whose eyes were wide as saucers. I said in my defense, “I went to the library to find a book to read the kids by the time I came back to the gathering room the kids were on the floor with the toys and Mel came over said he thought they looked bored. Would you explain to Sybil while I go out and get myself some beer?”

Elizabeth answered:” Sure but next time bring something home for me while Mel is not looking.”

I laughed headed out the door and I was relieved to hear both the girls laughing. Once Sybil divorced her husband Jeff and Matilda spent a few days a week with us while their mother was working. I was surprised I started to enjoy having those Mutts around. We now have this thing we do anytime someone says something we don’t like we start to bark.




Don’t Move the Furniture Chapter 6

Don’t Move the Furniture

Chapter 6 Reality check

Connor had the best solution to the Sybil problem, he drew up a living trust for Elizabeth, and he added the stipulation that if anyone of the kids raised a fuss as to how the estate would be distributed they would be immediately disinherited.

Kay Lee is a gem she loved the fact that Elizabeth and I were married and she couldn’t wait to meet Sybil. Kay Lee has a dark mischievous side which I adore. The kids arrived all at once. The normal introductions were made and the first one to speak up was Clay he shook my hand and said, “Glad to meet you, my aunt, Elizabeth tells me you’ve swept her off her feet.”

I laughed and said, “She has that backward.”

Clay smiled giving my hand another shake. Nice guy, I think we will be just fine together. Next Estelle came over gave me a hug and said she was glad I was part of her Aunts life. Now I am wondering what Sybil would say. She did not say a word nor did she even acknowledge my existence. I walked up to her gave her a hug and said, “Nice to meet you, Sybil.” She did not exactly scowl but she did tense up.

I watched how she interacted with her brother and sister. She went over to Elizabeth and whispered something in her ear. Elizabeth gave her a rocking hug wrapping her arms around her as though she was an injured child. That is when it dawned on me this was not about the inheritance this was about her feeling as though she is losing her aunt. I asked everyone if they want something to drink help themselves, I gave the full list of refreshments available. The grandkids already had their juice boxes. My son Connor grabbed a beer, as did Kay Lee. Estelle poured herself an ice tea, Clay grabbed a beer and I poured and handed a glass of wine to Elizabeth and Sybil. Sybil finally made eye contact which gave me the opportunity to say, “Sybil, I am the sort of man that is good at sharing. You are not losing your Aunt you are gaining a crazy old fart.”

Her eyes widened with surprise I heard everyone else laugh. Sybil started to cry as she wrapped her arms around Elizabeth.

Clay blurted out, “Oh for heaven’s sake is that why you have been such a pain in the ass?”

Sybil spoke through her sobs, “Mom’s gone all I have is Aunt Elizabeth.”

Kay Lee went over to Sybil placed her arms around her and said, “I could really use your help with the old fart.”

Sybil laughed and blew her nose. She came over to me and gave me a hug then said, “Give me any trouble old fart and I will kick your ass!”

Another round of laughter Connor asked everyone to sit down around the dining table because he needed to talk to everyone. The kids were watching a video so the adults did as they were asked.

Connor went through the living trust he set up for Elizabeth explaining each detail. Once everyone was done with questions they seemed to be happy with the results. Sybil said to Elizabeth, “Aunt Elizabeth you do know it was never about the money? I just did not want to lose you.”

Elizabeth said: “You have not lost me you have gained an Uncle.”

No one picked up on that right away. Finally, Estelle said, “Wait! Gained an Uncle?”

I said, “Yes we were married last week. I promise it was not a shotgun wedding.”

Once it finally registered what happened another round of greetings went around the table. This time it was more amiable.

The meal went splendidly, we said our goodbyes as each of the family members left. I turned to my wife picked her up and took her to bed.

The next morning I asked Elizabeth why the spouses did not come with the kids. She said she had asked Clay and he said they felt this was more of an immediate family issue, besides the spouses begged off not wanting to get in the middle of a feud.

I was glad Sybil came to terms with my relationship with her aunt. I am glad to have more grandchildren to spoil given the chance I will teach each one how to be a pain in the ass.


Don’t Move the Furniture Chapter 5

Don’t Move the Furniture

Chapter 5 Meeting the family

Elizabeth and I went out to breakfast. She started to tell me of the chaos it caused when she told her nieces and nephew she was seriously seeing someone. Her niece Sybil (which by her description was aptly named)

Sybil picked up Elizabeth and was the first to go off on her about getting into a relationship at her age. Sybil gave her all the cliche reasons why she shouldn’t get involved. 1.after your money 2. do not really know him 3. you will regret not enjoying singleness 4. should play the field. 5 repeated #1

I Told Elizabeth, Sybil was in it for the money she is worried about her inheritance and how dare you to risk it all.

Elizabeth nodded in agreement. The nieces and nephew and their spouses were in Sybil’s backyard when they started to argue among themselves. It bothered Elizabeth that upon Sybil hearing about the relationship she quickly called the rest of the clan to tell them they needed to have an intervention. She told her brother and sister they should get babysitters this needs to be adults only.

While Sybil’s brother Clay and sister Estelle were arguing among themselves one of Sybil’s neighbors came over to see what the commotion was. Janice the neighbor whispered to Elizabeth ‘Would you like me to drive you home?’

Elizabeth readily said yes. Sybil was upset that her other siblings did not agree with her assessment. They believe their aunt should live her life to the fullest.

I said ‘So there is hope that this will calm down. Not that Sybil will come to her senses but if she gets into my face I will set her straight.’

Elizabeth said ‘I know I can count on you no matter what I say to that girl, she never listened to me’

Elizabeth explained she wanted to give the kids a couple of weeks before she invited them over for a meal. She will make the stipulation that if they do not bring the kids they need not come.

I love the woman’s spunk so I suggested “Elizabeth, let’s have a bit of fun with them. I have a friend who is a real estate agent. I could borrow one of his for sale signs and place it in front of your place.”

She smiled and said ‘ I am ahead of you Morty. I am wondering what you would think of me moving in here. I like where your place is set off to the side and have woods off the deck. Gilbert my neighbor was talking with his friend John about friends of his wanting to move here but there were no units available. I told Gilbert that mine might be available fully furnished.’

I leaned back and said ‘I love the idea and would like to up the ante. Let’s get married. Not tell anyone. Then spring it on your family at the dinner. Also, I would like to invite Connor and Kay Lee as well as the grands. I will give Connor heads up on the whole ordeal. This would be one way to once and for all put Sybil in her place.’

Elizabeth took a breath and said ‘I will give Gilbert a call. You let Connor know. After I have moved in we can set the date and time.’

I said ‘First things first let’s go to city hall and tie the knot.’

She agreed, she went home changed into a beautiful beige silky dress, pinned her hair up added a little jewelry and makeup. Stunning she is stunning.

When we arrived home at our place I did my best to do the groom thing. I unlocked the door picked her up in my arms to carry her over the threshold. I nearly dropped her but we made it through the door laughing like two little kids.

After we disrobed and sealed the deal with an under the sheets meal, we showered and began to make the phone calls. I told Connor about Sybil and her siblings. Then told him Elizabeth and I were married. He laughed and said ‘Oh Gawd Dad you are a pain in the ass, did you not consider a prenuptial agreement?’

I told him no, I believe I am a good judge of character also with the irrevocable living trust I believe the inheritance was set. Maybe that is needed to put Sybil’s mind at ease but first I want to have my fun with her.


Don’t Move the Furniture Chapter 4

Don’t Move the Furniture

Chapter 4 While she is gone


I know the adage ‘while the cat’s away the mice will play’. In this case, I plan on being an absolute gentleman. I do not want to ruin things between Elizabeth and I. Since we have been seeing each other I have not kept up with what is going on with Paula. Nor Mel for that matter I wonder if Martha and Mel have been up to more antics?

I did not see Elizabeth off the next morning her niece was picking her up. She said she would use the three days to slowly let the family know about our relationship. Elizabeth then planned on having the immediate family over for a meal and introductions.

I decided first to call Rick and get an update on him and Paula I waited till what I thought was a respectable time to call 8 am. The phone rang a woman’s voice answered I asked for Rick. Rick came to the phone “Yah what can I do for you?”

I said, “Hey Rick I guess I am calling at a bad time?”

Rick said, “Hold on.”

In a few moments, he came back on the line and said “That was Paula who answered I needed to say goodbye to her. She is late for work.”

Smiling to myself I said, “I did not recognize her voice hope she didn’t recognize mine as well?”

Rick laughed and said:  “She thought it was someone from my work.”

I said “Good. So I am assuming things are going well between the two of you?”

Rick said “I do not kiss and tell but I will say this I owe you a thank you. Paula is intelligent and interesting. Nothing like many of the bubble heads around here. She is a bit headstrong but that is no problem.”

I told Rick I was glad to hear it. After our conversation, I had coffee and some breakfast. While I was cleaning up after breakfast my phone rang it was Elizabeth she was crying “I told my niece Sybil that I was seeing someone and she had the audacity to say to me ‘Oh Aunt Liz your too old for that sort of thing.’ I let her have it with both barrels and told her in no uncertain terms to ‘Buck up buttercup’ the rest of the ride was done in silence. I am only calling you because I needed to vent before I go downstairs and listen to the rest of the choir.”

I cannot believe I said, “I love you Elizabeth and if you want me to come there to be your back up you know I will at a moment’s notice.”

My heart hammered in my head hoping she wasn’t going to pull away. I was pleasantly gifted with “I love you too Morty how silly of us not coming right out and saying it yesterday. It is so immature of us isn’t it?”

I laughed and said we need some of the immaturity to have fun so let’s not grow up too soon. I heard someone calling her name. Elizabeth hung up I grabbed another coffee and headed out to the activities building hoping there was something going on that would keep me out of trouble.

As I walked through the door I could hear banter over a card game going on. Pinochle between the girls and the guys. I decided to sit off to the side hoping to glean some juicy gossip about Mel and Martha. It did not take long when John spoke up “Hey Morty did you hear that Mel and Martha went on a cruise? They got in some kind of trouble and they were told at the second port they needed to find another way home or stay in their cabin the rest of the way.”


I smiled and said “Really? What were those to love birds up too?”


John said “They were trying to get other couples to wife swap, even the young couples. I guess the young couples were the ones that made the fuss. The way I heard it some of the older couples were game for the game.”

Lily was shaking her head “In this day and age the diseases you can pick up with that sort of behavior.”


John laughed and said “Mel can barely pick up what he needs for the game how in the world would he pick up a disease? Plus with all the Ben Gay and lubricant I do not think much could get passed the rest of the wrinkles.”


We all started to laugh I looked over to the observation window and noticed Paula standing there giving me the signal she wanted to talk to me.


I walked out hearing Lily tell John to behave himself and not be crude.


‘Hey, Paula how have you been?” I said


‘Actually pretty good can you keep something to yourself?’


‘Sure what’s up?’


‘I want to thank you for introducing me to your friend Rick. I also want to know what you know about him.’


I told her all the gory details of the three people in my life which passed within days of each other and what a vital role Rick had played in the events and subsequent days following, Rick became a very close friend of the family.

Paula seemed to like what she heard. She then asked a question I was not sure I should be honest when I answer. “Did you bring Rick here for me to meet?”


I took a moment to ponder how I would go about telling her. I did not want it to sound like what it was, a set up by both me and Rick.

‘I had feelings for you that I knew you would not reciprocate and being the controlling old fart I am I figured I would see to it you met men I would approve of.’

I started to sweat hoping she would take it in the manner I meant it.


She looked at me ‘Morty if you were 10 years younger there would be no holding me back. Your grand gesture is a bit chauvinist. But knowing who you are the gesture does not offend me. All I ask is that you no longer meddle in my personal life.’


I told her I would not as long as she sticks with Rick. Beyond that, I make no promises. She laughed asked about Elizabeth and I. I gave her the short version not embellishing on our embellishments if you know what I mean?

It was my turn to ask a question “What is going on with Mel and Martha? I hear they were about to be kicked off a cruise liner for indecent proposals?’

Paula rolled her eyes and said ‘Because of privacy issues all I can say is their vacation was cut short. They are flying back”


I nodded and wondered if they would also be restrained on the plane for trying out the mile high club.

After talking to Paula I wandered around lost for what to do with myself. I felt this way when my wife passed. I told myself I would never feel this way again. Yet alas here I am befuddled by this thing called love. Hoping she will find an excuse to come home early.

I am considering calling her to give her pointers as to how to start a fight leaving them believing they did something wrong and giving her a reason to call me for a ride home.

Yet I know she loves those kids even when they are being donkeys.


As I was walking back to my place the thought occurred to me. I need to rent an old video and invite people in for some nostalgia. I could order some pizza, chicken wings. Have a beer, wine, and mixed drinks. If I get stinking drunk I will sleep for a couple of

days by then Elizabeth will be home. I stopped by the fountain halfway between my place and the activities building. There are benches there to sit and enjoy the roses I guess. I sat down made a few calls. Some of those I invited are from the facility others from my old neighborhood. All in all 8 people said yes. Now onto the video store for Casablanca. Everyone voted for that movie.


Everyone was to arrive at 6 pm we would eat, drink, and mingle then at 8 pm the movie starts. Some brought lawn chairs other large pillows for the floor. We had a lot of laughs as we joked about old times. My new friends talking to my old friends hoping to find out things they could use against me. What they found out was that I was respectable and boring when I was married. I did not turn the corner until I was left to my own devices.


As it turned out we not only had the items delivered from the pizzeria, there was a smorgasbord of potluck items. I lost track of who all showed up. This is very reminiscent of what happened to me in high school, a simple invite to a few close friends brought out the entire school. No matter I am having fun drinking beer and eating myself silly. Still wishing Elizabeth was here she would have had fun as well.


I looked at the clock it is now midnight. I am feeling light headed and need to take a walk to clear my head. Being that all my company is adults I can leave them alone for a

moment, I hope. The thought of Karma did occur to me. Had it not been for Elizabeth coming into my life, I would have come up with some shenanigans.

My intent was to sit by the fountain. I stood looking at the fountain and without hesitation, I decided to disrobe to my skivvies and sit in the fountain hoping to clear my head. Not sure how long I sat there with my eyes closed when I heard a familiar voice say “Can I join you?” Opening my eyes I thought it was an apparition. Elizabeth was standing with a grin on her face eating a brownie. She at least kept her clothes on. I tapped the water as if it were the sofa. Elizabeth stepped in as she shoved half the brownie in her mouth. I asked where she got the brownies she told me “at your party one of the residents brought two batches to share. I must say they are pleasant”

I laughed out loud and said “That is Lucy’s specialty. I wondered why my head felt fuzzy.”

Elizabeth leaned on me. We were enjoying the coolness of the water spraying over us when a flashlight was stuck in our faces. A man in uniform said “Okay kids the party is

over. Get out of the fountain. If you are the guy who is having the party I want to advise

you to tell your guests to go home. No one should drive, calling a cab would be the best bet.”


I laughed again looked over at Elizabeth she was giving him the finger. I said, “Excuse her rudeness officer she has never eaten a brownie before.”

He said “This one time I will let it go as long as you take my advice. By the way don’t you think you are too old for this sort of behavior?”

I said “Obviously not and son I hope in your golden years you will not be either. Also, hope that if you are caught not acting your age a kind fellow will give you good advice.”

To his credit, he laughed.

I got out helping Elizabeth step out of the fountain. I put my long sleeve shirt around her and did not bother putting my dry clothes on. We walked back to my place hand in hand. By the time we arrived the party was already dispersing. There were three cabs out front with gray-haired Q-tips climbing in the back seat.


I was pleasantly surprised my place wasn’t trashed. Much of it was cleaned up. There were dishes in the sink and no one was sleeping in Papa bears bed.

I dried off. Gave Elizabeth one of my shirts we climbed into bed. I decided to wait till morning to ask her why she was home so early.

I was the first one up bright and early, 9 am. I was feeling foggy but no hangover which I actually deserve a hangover. It must have been the cold water from the fountain.

Smiling to myself I started the coffee. The thought did occur to me that it may be too soon to ask Elizabeth to marry me. Seeing her climbing into the fountain to be with me just caused my sentimentality to surge. What did I do to deserve another special woman in my life? I really thought I lost all hope of being in love again. This time around the love is different. Elizabeth is fun, Marie was warm and maternal. Marie was a great housekeeper, mom, and wife. I am not even sure how to explain the difference to myself.

I heard Elizabeth start the shower, I pulled her clothes out of the drier brought them into the bedroom, made the bed, laid her clothes out. I went back to the kitchen to fetch us both a cup of coffee. By the time I returned to the bedroom Elizabeth was pulling her top

I was smiling ear to ear as I handed her a cup of coffee I said “Good morning beautiful. You do not know how pleased I was to see you were home.” Then I blurted it out “Elizabeth will you marry me?”

My heart started to pound in my chest. Damn what did I say, why didn’t I wait?

She took the coffee step towards me, kissed me and said “Not yet big boy.”

She added, “You have to meet the family first, not that they would be invited.”

I smiled and realized the answer was actually yes.