tagNovels and NovellasA Final Valentine

A Final Valentine

byPuckIt©

Literotica 2018 Valentine's Day Contest entry.

Votes would be especially welcomed by all authors competing as it takes so many just to be eligible, much less win.

All on-screen sexual encounters in the following (when they finally do occur) are between consenting adults over the age of eighteen.


*****

How many days does it take before you take the one you love for granted? That they will be there for you to tell or show you love them later? I'm ashamed to admit I don't remember.

How many months does it take before it stops hurting that they are once again gone from your life? To stop regretting the missed opportunities to tell them and show them just how you felt? I'm beginning to believe I will never know. I just know I haven't gotten there yet.

How many Valentine's Days would be enough to spend with someone you love more than life, that means more than the promise of Heaven or Hell to you? I don't know that either, but I'm beginning to suspect it would be one more than I'd had no matter what that number was.

--Day One--

Six days before Valentine's Day, I woke in the bed where my wife had months previously drawn her last breath while I slept on unaware, with absolutely no idea just how drastically my life was about to be changed.

I woke myself dreaming about her, the same as always. I reached for her in my half-awake fog, forgetting that she was gone from the world for just a moment in my daze. Only to be whacked in the face by a three-foot tail rather than touch the woman who had taught me as much as she could about how to love and be loved in our too short time together.

There may be something metaphoric about reaching for love and getting smacked in the nose by a powerful tail now that I think about it.

Rather than crying, which I'd long since figured out didn't help (and had run out of tears anyway), I patted our dog on the hip and began the laborious process of levering myself over, then sitting up and placing my feet on the floor.

Muscles spasmed in complaint and my joints sounded like a child's breakfast cereal with some snaps, a lot of crackles, and about six loud pops. Missing my wife wasn't the only thing that made mornings rough. It was just the more recent. And the worse pain. Which was really saying something as my nerve endings sent false messages of fire, electricity, and other trauma attacking though the room was dark and quiet other than a man and a dog breathing and the gas wall furnace hissing out beside the bathroom door.

For some reason, I picked up the pack of Djarum Black Clove Cigars with precisely one unburnt tube left inside and rattled it next to my ear before opening it to retrieve my last kretek. Perhaps I was hoping that last one had somehow miraculously given birth to another during the night. Perhaps I just had a problem breaking a habit. Perhaps I'm insane. I took refuge that I paused to think about it as proof the last wasn't quite the case. Yet.

The only light in the room was the orange glow from the burning tube and that made me frown.

After my Angela had gone on, I'd had some trouble making the bills with only my own disability check to call on. Cable television and internet had been the first to go followed by phone and electricity, so I had no lights and no clock except the daylight that would struggle to get past the heavy drapes over the windows to cast the room in an orange glow.

The drapes were heavy, sure. Heavy enough to keep some heat or coolness trapped inside. But, not so heavy there wouldn't be the dim glow from the bright West Texas sun pressing through them. There usually was when I awoke to start another "busy day" of doing not too much beyond tending to my dog, smoking kreteks, doing enough exercise to keep what little mobility remained to me, reading a bit in the other bedroom if the light through the west facing windows in there was bright enough. And missing Angela. Had I awoken too early? With no clock, no real need for one usually, there was no way to know other than to look at the sky when I took Bitty out.

Which I needed to do. But, it would be a process of getting myself able to move first.

The lit kretek hanging from my lips, I went into a series of stretches and mild calisthenics. Once I'd done much more in order to be stronger and quicker and better able to do my job and my hobbies. Now I had to do them just so I could stand, walk, sit. The things most people take for granted. The things I'd once taken for granted.

When Angela and I had lost our house and Bitty's backyard, unable to make the payments with both of us ending up on disability within six months of each other, and moved into the place our little pack had washed up in on the wrong side of the highway, we'd had the furniture carefully placed so that we wouldn't need our canes inside. My clove cigar finished, and my light exercise finished enough for the moment, I used the bed and otherwise useless computer desk on my side of the bed to lever myself to my feet and made my way out of the bedroom and through the front room, touching the furniture and walls lightly along the way to hold my balance, to the kitchen door where Bitty was waiting.

Bitty, originally Little Bitch then shortened to Little Bit but most often called Bitty, was exceedingly well trained. She wouldn't even allow herself to puke in the house, much less pee or poop. It had just made sense to do that amount of training on the bodily control issue since her turds were bigger than most dog's entire bodies. I could easily have just let her out without a lead. But not only was it against the city ordinance, people had a tendency to panic when they realized she was moving around unfettered and ran screaming about "Dogzilla." As if I could somehow physically stop her with a mere leash if she weren't so well trained. A tree would have a hard time stopping Bitty if she weren't so well trained.

But, Bitty and I had made the concession that she had to put her "bra" on (her halter) and have it fastened to the twenty-five-foot metal lead before I would open the door. Which, not having opposable thumbs, she needed my fumbling help with. And it gave her a chance to exfoliate the entire side of my head while I was knelt down in front of her trying to get it fastened.

When I did finally get around to opening the door, both of us stood there staring in awe. It was snowing! It never freaking snowed! Bitty had never seen it, having only been alive eight years and living all that time in the same city. I'd seen it other places and once in the town we lived in. Thirty-five years earlier! Even that had been a light dusting though, melted away again shortly after noon.

This snow, though... This snow was accumulating! I judged there were already a good two to three inches covering the dirt and sparse dead grass. And more fluffy fat flakes were swirling down out of the grey sky as we watched. I glanced down at Bitty who had turned her head to look up at me.

One of three major regrets I knew Angela had about following me back to that suburb of Hell was that it never snowed. And she missed it. Perhaps I was just born a grumpy old soul, but the nineteen months I'd lived where Angela and I had met, I hadn't particularly enjoyed the white stuff. To me, it had just been a nuisance. An obstacle to be worked around.

Perhaps that day I was just missing her and wishing she could have been there to see it, but I had to admit she might have had a point. Even our ghetto fabulous duplex with bullet holes in the peeling grey outer walls actually looked good with snow stuck to it covering up some of the ugliness. I was certain she would have enjoyed it.

Just as I'm certain she would have enjoyed the comedic pantomime as I tried to get Bitty to go on out and do her business while leaving me standing inside the kitchen door. And Bitty clearly communicating, "after you!"

I could well imagine Angela doubled over with laughter as, after four false starts when Bitty clearly objected to the feeling of that cold white stuff on her paws, the pressure of her bladder finally drove her out long enough to squat before she high-stepped it back and almost knocked me down in her rush getting back inside.

If there was any doubt just what my pretty girl thought about what was happening outside, she made it perfectly clear once I got her halter back off as she rounded the corner out of the kitchen quickly enough she almost lost it and ended up in her water dish on her way to the carpeted main room. The room most people probably would have used for a living room and den but we had our dining set in since there wasn't room in the minuscule kitchen.

It was funny. I'd been against getting the dining room table with six chairs and a sideboard. I'd figured we had gotten by that long with the smaller table with four chairs I'd picked up for fifty dollars when a hotel was renovating. I hadn't seen why we'd needed to get a new one. But, Angela had loved it, so I'd caved as I generally did when she wanted something. Then, her back had gotten worse and worse until finally, her last couple of years, she'd been virtually bedridden, eating and doing most other things from bed using a hospital-style bed table and only getting up to use the bathroom, bathe, or make her coffee (which she insisted I'd never learned how to do properly). I think we had eaten at that table together maybe twelve times total. Yet, since her death, I had eaten every meal there, generally one a day for me, with Bitty taking hers on the floor beside it.

I cracked open our last can of 9 Lives Canned Cat Food, all Bitty would eat, and took it around to find Bitty, a darker shadow in a darkened room, lying in her spot between the table and the sideboard. I lit the candle on the table to see her licking her saucer-sized paws and set the can down near the bowl that had held the same dry dog food for almost a month. I determined yet again I should probably just give up and toss it out, but to my backward way of thinking, at least according to Bitty (and to a lesser extent Angela), I thought she should eat at least some dog food rather than living on canned cat food. But, Bitty had developed a taste for it before our old thirty-pound cat, Midget, had passed away at the ripe old age of twenty-three, and that was the only bit of training I hadn't managed to get across to my sweet little girl.

I wasn't hungry. Not unusual since I'd fallen to eating just one "meal" per day that once would have been a light snack. But, I took my seat and watched as Bitty daintily ate her breakfast straight out of the can. And wished I had another kretek.

We had a problem. It had been five days since we had made the trek to the tobacco shop and store we used. I was out of smokes and Bitty was out of food. At least food she would actually eat. I was running a bit low on food myself, but that didn't matter as much to me as the other two.

If my smoking had just been about nicotine, if I'd still been smoking Marlboro or Winston, I most likely would have long since quit once the finances got so tight. However, most people didn't realize, not even the white-coated menaces who should have, that the clove in clove cigars did two things I really needed. It dulled nerve pain and it stifled the gag reflex. The latter was only important when I forced myself to choke down some food. The former was a constant need as it did more for me than the Lyrica they'd had me on before I decided to quit wasting money and time on doctors and prescriptions since they couldn't really help. All they could do was "improve your quality of life." Which even I knew enough medicine to know meant I was fucked, but they were going to try to keep me around for awhile so they could keep billing me as long as possible.

Still, after losing Angela I most likely would have quit anyway. Would most likely have quit everything and just turned my face to the wall and waited to follow. If it hadn't been for Bitty.

Despite my vehement objections, Angela had often half-jokingly accused me that I'd hung on and fought my way back as much as I had more for Bitty than for Angela. Even the white-coated menaces had speculated that tending Bitty, and training her, had done more for me than the fistful of pills they'd had me swallowing three times per day before I decided I was tired of wasting over a thousand dollars a month on them. Maybe they were on to something since I was still riding this carnival ride.

Letting Bitty go hungry was not anywhere near an option for me.

So, I needed to get to the store. Today. And, since I would be going anyway, it just made sense to get my smokes and perhaps a bit of food for me as well. I should be fine. I would just need to bundle up in more clothes than I usually wore.

Wearing clothes at all was a problem for me. First, the feeling of it rubbing against my skin would send false signals from my nerves anywhere from flechettes cutting into me to ants biting chunks out of me to fire burning me. Also, my dexterity was mostly shot and I had trouble with snaps, buttons, zippers, laces, and every other type of fastening I had ever encountered. Even Velcro was an issue ripping it apart. On a lesser note, the only method I had of doing laundry, since there was no electricity to run the washing machine, was to do it by hand in the tub. It was easier to just sit around naked inside with a pair of oversized cotton sweats (with an elastic waistband) nearby to pull on when Bitty needed to go outside. And pull on my heavy robe over it when it was too chilly out there.

On our trips to the store, I added a pullover t-shirt when it was warm or a button up flannel quilted hoodie I treated as a pullover (since I hadn't undone the buttons after the last time Angela fastened them) on days it was chilly and a pair of plastic clogs for my feet. Throw my old beat up western style black leather hat on top of my head, hang my house key with a Warner Bros. Tasmanian Devil keychain Angela had given me as a gag gift on a lanyard around my neck, add the five-foot-tall authentic Ozark walking stick I'd picked up on a long-ago vacation to Devil's Den, Arkansas and used instead of a cane and I was ready to go out and assault the world with my dazzling "I don't give a fuck" fashion sense.

I had the feeling that wasn't going to be enough this time and, once Bitty finished her can, I tossed it in the kitchen garbage, blew out the candle on the table, and made my way back to the bedroom to see what I could manage.

By the light of three candles on the semi-shrine I'd built out of Angela's old bed table, I managed to find some old tattered thermal underwear to go under my usual outfit and my old patchwork leather duster complete with a mantle that weighed about forty or fifty pounds to pull over it. I also found an old pair of lace-up Rubber Duck insulated boots I would have sworn I had thrown on the donation pile either when we had to move or when Angela's son by her first marriage and his wife had helped me go through and clear out her things after her memorial before once again disappearing from the shattered remains of my life.

The boots were the hardest part and I finally gave up on the laces. At least I wouldn't have wet socks from cold melting snow oozing in the holes in the plastic clogs.

With a kiss transferred by my fingertips to my favorite picture of her, the same one they'd used for her obituary, hanging above the small bed table along with six other documents and pictures in frames, I blew out the candles and prepared to head out into the cold cruel world.

Bitty, however, was having none of it. It took almost as long to put her in her halter (with her much shorter leash used for our treks), saddlebags, and jacket declaring her a support animal as it had for me to wrestle with my own outfit. And then she balked at the door despite my going on outside ahead of her this time.

I wasn't a fan of the idea of going without her. But, it eventually got through to me that I would be crazy to try to trudge the two-mile round trip while all but dragging a hundred and fifty-pound dog.

I gave up and took her gear back off. As I was locking the door, Bitty acted as if she'd changed her mind, trying to tunnel through the metal. However, when I opened it again, she stuck her head out to look around and turned to head back off to the living room. I guess she thought I was going to obey and follow because when I closed the door and locked it, I hadn't made more than three steps before she was clawing at it again.

I could count the number of times without taking my boots off Bitty and I had been separated once she'd come limping up, her whole body no bigger than her head was now, with bloody pads on her paws and much too young to be away from mama yet. Other than those seven trips to the doctor (and I guessed today's to the store) when you saw one of us, the other would be not more than twenty-five feet away for all but about one month of her eight years of life. And she never took so much as a closed-door coming between us well. Granted, I didn't either. But, I didn't try to dig a hole through metal.

Trudging, as we usually did, down the back roads and alleyways, it didn't really dawn on me that there was much less traffic than usual until I hit 50th Street, nine-tenths of a mile later. Some of that might have been keeping my attention on my steps, lifting my staff high enough to get over the rising snow before driving it back down and then kicking that same snow with each uncertain step while trying to not fall.

Or maybe it was thinking about Angela and how much she would have enjoyed all this white mess.

On 50th Street, since I had to cross it, I looked up to scan left and right and was shocked to see no vehicles at all moving on the road for as far as I could see. That was just unheard of on that stretch between the highway proper and business route in my experiences.

Pronto Mart looked like it was actually closed. Which didn't make any sense as it had taken me long enough wrestling with clothes and trying to get Bitty out, and factoring in taking twice as long to walk it as normal, it had to be lunchtime or thereabouts.

If I'd had the energy to spare, I might have wasted some hoping my smoke shop would be open as I limped across the street I would normally have had to wait as much as ten minutes for an opening large enough and turned east.

A couple of blocks later, I paused at a shrill whistle and glanced up to see Big Drew standing next to his pickup with his elbow resting on the roof of the cab.

"I thought that was you, you crazy old coot!" Drew called. "Almost didn't recognize you in that Desperado get up and without your horse along! But, there ain't that many people running around wearing that goofy looking hat and carrying a big stick! And even fewer crazy enough to come out on a day like today!"

I acknowledged with a wave and returned my attention to my feet to keep trudging toward him.

"You know, you're lucky I happened to look up and see you and recognized you," Drew said more conversationally as I stepped over the curb into his parking lot. "I had already locked up and was about to try to make it home."

Locked up? I paused again and glanced at the darkened building with bars on the windows and then looked at him. What was he saying? Was I too late? Then why had he bothered to wait?

Big Drew just stood there looking at me for a moment, his face unreadable, before he sighed and slammed his pickup door shut with the motor still running.

"Well, come on, you cantankerous old cuss. Let's get inside and get what you need so I can get the hell out of here."

Inside, I stepped to the register and started the process of wrestling my billfold out of my shirt pocket so I could fumble my bank card out to pay while Drew flipped a switch or whatever to fire the register and card machine back up and headed over to get my smokes. By the time I had my debit card out, he was back with two cartons instead of my usual one and I craned my neck to peer at him.

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