Before I Forget

byqhml1©

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SATURDAY MORNING 5-14-11

Baker's point was named after one of the first settlers in the area, and the family owned the land at one time. The state had owned it for forty years, developing a park and campground.

There was hiking, swimming, boating, and especially fishing.

It was an actual point, a sheer knob of granite that extended out from the mountains into a point less than three feet wide. From there it dropped off ninety feet, where the headwaters of the river flowed by in typical fashion. An eighty foot run that dropped about four feet, strew with rocks the size of marbles up to the size of cars, before making a turn at the point and widening into a large pool.

David had just hiked up from the pool, and was sitting there gasping a little, just where the point leaves the mountain.

"Damn, Elvis, I can remember when I could run up here and not be out of breath."

Elvis looked at him like he was smiling. David noticed.

"Don't think I forgot. What the hell were you thinking? I almost had him, I bet he weighed fifteen pounds. That's a monster around here. I wasn't going to keep him, I just wanted to hold him once, before I let him go. I almost had him in the net when you jumped in the water and broke the line."

He looked over at Elvis, admiring him. He wasn't a perfect specimen, he had a crooked tooth that made his lip curl into a snarl, and it reminded him of a picture of a young Elvis, so he gave him that name. He was from the last litter of boxers he had bred, and was one of the biggest, weighing over seventy pounds.

He caught his breath and set out two small bowls.

He put water in one and a can of dog food in the other. He usually fed him dry, giving him a can once in a while as a treat. He took the long leash he had brought, clipped it to his collar, and tied it to a small tree. It was long enough to reach him as he unwrapped his lunch, and he bumped his head into his shoulder until he lifted his arm, and Elvis slid underneath.

He watched mournfully as David unwrapped his sandwich, whining softly.

"Damn, Elvis. I get you a gourmet can of food, and you're trying to steal the last meal I'm ever gonna have. What kind of fair is that?"

Still, he tore the sandwich in half and gave it to him.

"Here, bud. I owe you this. I want to apologize and thank you. First, for forgetting you for two days. Two days!"

His voice shook with shame.

"For two days you stood in your lot without food or water, yet when I remembered and came for you, all you wanted for the first minute or two was my attention. That's where the thank you part comes in. You made me realize it was time for me to stop pretending, and do something."

He paused to rub behind his ears, knowing he loved it.

"Did I ever tell you why I kept you instead of the others? You were butt ugly and dumb as a rock, for one thing. But the decider was loyalty. That's something I've come to value lately. It didn't matter if it was ten degrees or a hundred, if it was pouring rain in a high wind, or if it was a blizzard outside, if I went out you wanted to go too."

He patted the dog one more time.

"Don't worry, someone will be along shortly. You've got food and water, and if nothing else that bark will attract someone. Goodbye my friend."

He sat for a minute as tears ran down his face.

Looking at the point, he remembered this morning.

...............................................

He'd walked out the the very end of the point and looked down. Ninety feet looked like a long way down. The headwaters of the river ran alongside the base, dropping about ten feet in an eighty foot run, strewn with rocks from the size of a tennis ball to the size of a car, before curving around into a deep pool.

Ninety feet. That should just about do it.

He thought carefully about the plans he made, trying to find a flaw. For the sake of his children, this had to look like an accident. All the upbeat videos should reinforce that it was an accident.

He felt foolish, but was compelled to speak.

"I never worried much about you, you know. I took my kids to church for years, because I felt they needed to be exposed to you. I never really felt you in church. I guess there were too many people competing for your attention."

"No, I felt you in the wind. In the warm sun and rain that made my crops grow, in the beauty of a perfect crop, bound to nourish people I would never meet. And I saw you a few times too, in the faces of my children. I want to thank you for all that."

"I know what I'm about to do is a sin according to some. I admit I'm doing it partly for me, the thought of dying by inches doesn't appeal to me at all. But, mostly I'm doing it for my children. I can't stand the thought of forcing them to watch me fade away until only a shell is left. I don't want to burden them by forcing them through guilt and pain to come by and spend time with an empty husk. I want their last memories of me to be good, when I was able to function. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'm selfish, but I'm gonna do it anyway. Just wanted to clear the air."

He stood for a second more, then grinned.

"Oh, and if you feel like granting me a last request, let me catch Mr. Big. I won't hurt him, I'll put him right back in the water. It'll be a good memory to go out on."

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SATURDAY AFTERNOON 5-14-11

Hank and Mary Travers were huffing and puffing, trying to keep up with their twelve year old daughter as she ran laughing up the trail. Both raised in a large city, they looked for jobs in smaller towns, looking for a better place to raise their children, and have a house with a big yard. Beth came to them late, they had just about given up trying when she came along.

They learned to love the outdoors, and camped as often as they could. They would regal friends at parties with their fiasco stories of their first attempt, but had become so proficient they were sought out as chaperones when Beth's girl scout troop went on their annual trips.

Beth heard the dog barking long before she saw it. When she topped the trail, she saw the big dog, tangled in his chain underneath the tree. An old man was sitting there, apparently ignoring the barking. Something didn't look right, and she waited for her parents.

When they got to the top Beth went up to the man and shook him gently.

"Mister? Mister! Are you all right?"

He was passive for a minute when he suddenly started. Gradually the little girl came into focus. When she saw him staring she repeated the question.

She remembered his reply her whole life, especially if she was in the mountains.

"No child, I'm not. Do you think your parents will walk me back to the campground? And if you would, unclip my dog and let him run while we untangle his leash. He won't hurt you. His name is Elvis, and the worst thing that could happen would be him attempting to lick you to death."

She looked at her dad and he nodded. She called his name and petted him for a minute before taking the leash off the collar. After being unable to take more than a few steps for hours, he immediately took off down the trail, burning off some pent up energy. She called after him, but the old man said to leave him, he'd be right back.

He was stiff when her mom and dad helped him up.

Her dad advised him to walk around a bit, to limber up his muscles. The old man walked to the end of the point and looked down, then up.

.................................................

David walked to the end of the point. He looked down at the water, then up at the sky. If the nice young family hadn't happened by, it may have been morning before he came back to himself.

Looking up at the sky, he thought to himself about the day.

"Well, guess you showed me. I give up, we'll do it your way."

He turned to go back to the trail, when Mary Travers screamed. Elvis had come back up the trail at a dead run, saw his master, and leapt straight into his arms at full speed. It knocked him completely off the point. Luckily, the little girl was busy untangling the leash, and didn't witness it. She called 911, there was signal on the point, and soon the rangers and EMTs arrived. It was too late.

David looked upwards as he fell, and had just enough time to mouth "thank you", and with his last thought hurled Elvis into the pool. He popped up and immediately ran back to David, licking his face and whining. The rangers had to shoot him with tranquilizers to get him to stop defending the body two hours later.

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SUNDAY MORNING 5-16-11

Juanita Childers walked through her front door with a happy smile on her face. She'd just spent a great night with her younger lover. They'd made plans for their future together, once she divorced David and got most of his assets. She was going to retire, and he was going to quit his job. The affair had been going on for over twenty years.

She thought about David, frowning. He was so nice, so gullible, he never suspected she was sleeping with other people. It had started less than two years after they were married, forty years ago, with their banker. After that fizzled out she hooked up randomly, carefully, always covering her tracks, until she met Josh.

It would be awful for David.It would be like clubbing baby seals. He might not ever recover.

But, as Josh often said, there's always got to be a loser.

As she laid her purse down, she noticed her answering machine was full, thirty messages. Odd.

It reminded her to turn on her cell phone, and she noticed her message board was full. Wonder what was going on? Most were from Ronnie and Phil, god what an insufferable ass he was, she wondered what she saw in him sometimes. She checked the last message. She heard Phils' voice.

"Juanita, when you hear this, you need to call me or Ronnie. David was in a serious accident yesterday, and you need to get to Highlands Medical just as soon as you can. Please let us know you got your message as soon as possible."

She was immediately concerned. Even if she didn't love him, she didn't want him to come to harm.

She called Ronnie.

"WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN? OFF FUCKING JOSH RANDALL? GET YOUR ASS UP HERE RIGHT NOW, YOU SLUT!"

Her head reeled. Ronnie knew. God, she hoped she hadn't told David. She had to get up there right away, try to get a handle on the situation. She called Josh on the way out the door.

"Josh, David's been in an accident. I knew I should have left the phone on last night! Worse yet, somehow Ronnie knows about us. I'm on the way to the hospital. Keep an ear out for your phone, try to answer it before your wife does. It might be a good idea to turn it off today. I'll call back as soon as I know more."

She could hear the near panic in his voice.

"She can't know now! It would screw up all our plans. Call me as soon as you can."

As he disconnected, it struck her he never asked about David. She had a wicked thought she tried to suppress. What if he died? It would move their plans up, and she would end up with all his assets instead of just most.

..................................................

She parked in the hospital lot, checking her hair in the mirror. Damn, she wished she'd had the presence of mind to change clothes. She had on her party dress, her seamed hose, black four inch pumps. All things she kept hidden in a closet of one of the spare bedrooms. She exercised regularly, was trim, colored her hair, and she looked ten years younger than her actual age.

Ronnie met her in the lobby, her face set in hard lines of anger and pain. There was no greeting.

She looked her mother over, noticing the dress, and her face got even harder.

"About damn time, Cinderella. Did you have a good time at the senior slut ball last night? Maybe win the prize for biggest whore?"

Juanita stepped back from her daughter, thinking she might actually strike her.

"Mind your tongue, young lady! How dare you speak to me like that."

Ronnie looked her up and down.

"Well, Mom, if the 'come fuck me' pumps fit, I guess you should wear them."

Her blush deepened. Ronnie was still at full volume and people were starting to stare. She took her arm, which she immediately shook off.

"Don't touch me, you slut!"

Juanita lost it and slapped her. She stood, horrified. What had she done?

Ronnie rubbed her cheek before she spoke again.

"Thanks, skank. I needed to calm down. The whole world doesn't need to know our dirty business. Come with us."

Phil had appeared at her side, and if looks could kill, Juanita would be on the floor. She could feel the anger in his body. They turned and headed down a hall to a small office, stopping at the door.

"Go in there. They'll give you the information on Dad's condition, since you were so concerned you haven't even asked me once."

They literally shoved her through the door.

Juanita stood before a woman who looked harried and tired. She looked up from her desk.

"May I help you? Please, take a seat."

Juanita sat gingerly. Josh took her ass last night, and she let him so infrequently she was sore. She smiled at the memory. She gave it to him as a special treat once in a while, it kept him in line. Juanita stared at the woman for a second.

"Yes, I hope so. I'm here to inquire about David Childers. Where is he? What's his condition? How soon can I see him? I was, er, out of town last night and didn't get the message. I came as soon as I could."

The woman fished through her files, and looked up, frowning. She called someone, and soon there was a doctor in the office. They both looked uncomfortable.

"Um, Mrs. Childers, I'm afraid you got some bad information. Your husband isn't in the hospital."

The doctor paused for a minute, he had always hated this part.

"Ma'am, I'm sorry to tell you your husband passed yesterday afternoon, a hiking accident, according to the report. Arrangements were made by your daughter to transport him back to your local funeral home. I thought your children told you. They were all here by midnight last night."

Juanita let out a small moan before she slumped down in the chair. The doctor checked her over, before summoning a nurse and instructing her to find the family. She came back with a note from Ronnie.

"You didn't need us when he was alive, I see no reason for us to be around now. If it was up to me I'd tell you to call Josh and have him comfort you. But Junior is in the lobby, waiting on you. Jane drove their car home."

That was it. Junior picked her up and drove her back home, refusing to speak or listen to her the whole way. Jane was waiting in the driveway. She didn't come into the house.

Juanita noticed.

"Screw them all. They'll come to me after the will is read, hands out. Let's see how they treat me then."

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THURSDAY AFTERNOON 5-19-11

It was a funeral the small town talked about for years. David was well liked, and the small church overflowed.

They all remembered the visitation, where Juanita sat on one side with the older grandchildren around her, and the siblings sat on the other. The line was long, and the mood somber, until Josh Randall appeared, hugged Juanita, and went over towards the children.

Joy came up in a rage.

"YOU BASTARD! YOU ACTUALLY HAVE THE NERVE TO COME HERE? GET OUT! NOW, OR I'LL TELL SECRETS."

His face turned bright crimson, and he practically ran out. It took three men to constrain Junior. Juanita fainted.

The same odd grouping occurred at the funeral.

Juanita rode in a limo with the three oldest grandchildren, while the siblings and their spouses rode in a limo together.

Sidney escorted Joy to the door of the limo and turned away, to be blocked by Junior.

"Where are you going? You're family now, and Joy needs you. Come on, sister in law, get in the car."

Sidney cried all the way to the cemetery, a mixture of sorrow and joy.

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MAY 19-26, 2011

Juanita sat and brooded. Why were the children being so mean? Didn't they think she deserved happiness?

She was making a list of things to do. She thought it odd that she couldn't find any paperwork she needed in his little office. When she went to the bank and found the safety deposit box empty she had a mild panic attack. She had especially wanted his grandmothers jewelery, something he refused to get out of the box except for special occasions. She planned on wearing most of it all the time.

"Calm down" she told herself, "Phil probably knows where everything is. It'll all come out at the reading of the will. Then I'll take those snippy kids down a peg or two."

The reading of the will would be tomorrow. Josh had slipped over last night, and they spent four glorious hours together. He had taken the little blue pill, and they spent most of it in bed. Five orgasms, at least. She slept like a rock.

She sat gingerly, she had given up her ass again. He was becoming more demanding, sexually, since she was no longer attached. She found it charming. He had bit her breasts and thighs, leaving marks that couldn't be seen, marks that declared her his. After the will was read and she found out just how much she had, and he got his divorce, they were selling out and leaving town.

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MONDAY AFTERNOON 5-23-11

Juanita actually had a spring in her step as she approached the office of Anne Johnson. It seemed odd at first that Phil didn't handle the will, but upon reflection she realized it made sense, avoiding conflict of interest.

She was greeted and ushered into a conference room. Anne came in and introduced herself. Juanita could feel her disdain in her voice and mannerism. It didn't matter, in an hour or two she would never have to see you again.

"Mrs. Childers, I am instructed by the terms of the will to have you view this video, it will answer a lot of questions before the actual reading of the will. It should take a little over thirty minutes. When you're done, have my receptionist get me, and we'll gather with the rest of the family to read the will. If you need water or anything else, she will get it for you."

With that Anne left the room.

"Gee, what's the problem?" she thought. "I guess I need to hear Hubby's last words."

She had to admit, she missed him more than she thought she would. Even if she didn't exactly love him like she should, she was attentive to most of his needs. He made her feel safe and comfortable. Lately the big farmhouse seemed too empty, and the creaks and groans of an old house settling as the temperature changed kind of unnerved her. Odd she had never noticed that while he was alive. She started the video. His face filled the screen.

"Juanita, if you're watching this, I'm already in the rest home. Two years, and you never noticed me degenerating. Oh well, I'm sure you had other things on your mind."

She blushed, she had been a little self centered.

He continued.

"Things like fucking Josh Randall. Did you know he's probably the sperm donor for Joy? And Junior, I have no idea who his sperm donor is, but if you can remember, you need to tell him. If I've learned on thing from all this, it's that conditions like mine are genetically transferred.

The knowledge should be helpful should he ever need a kidney or something along that line."

She paused the disc in panic. How had he found out? After getting her breathing under control she restarted the disc, fearing the worst.

"It might be interesting for you to know that Ronnie is mine. She must have slipped through by accident."

"All these years I've loved you, and you've been distant from me. I understand now. You know, I've never liked Josh, he's always seemed sleazy to me. Now I know I'm right."

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