tagErotic CouplingsThe Circle of Life

The Circle of Life

byJamesMiehoff©

Copyright (c) 2018 James Miehoff, All Rights Reserved.

This work may not be published whether for fee or free without this copyright.

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This is one of a series of stories set in what I call Universe-J. Universe-J is very much like this universe with a few exceptions.

First the people tend to be a little more sexual and less hung up on sex that they are in our universe. This does not mean that monogamy is the exception. James and Heather were monogamous for a significant amount of time before they "accidentally" swapped partners.

Second the repercussions of unprotected sex are less severe than our universe. Not to say that STDs and unexpected pregnancies don't occur, just that they occur less frequently and in the case of STDs, a good shot of antibiotic will put you right again. HIV has yet to be introduced so STDs aren't a death sentence there.

Lastly, pedophilia and incest (which I will not be writing about) are virtually unknown. Children are to be protected and loved not abused. When they reach the age of consent, they can join in the adult games if they so desire, but there is no pressure on them to do so.

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Author's Prologue:

This particular story does not have the usual erotic flair of the other Universe-J stories. It involves a series of events that many of us have had to face in the Circle of Life. Some people cry, some people drink, I chose to write it out of my system.

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I got the call from my sister at work. I quickly let my boss know what had happened and then made arrangements to fly out that night.

While I sat on the plane sipping a scotch in the dim light, I reflected back on my relationship with my father. By most measures it wasn't good.

My father was one of those old school disciplinarians. Everything was black or white and there was never any grey. He always pushed me to do my best or not to do it at all. That made my life in high school a living hell.

I started college at 17. I was going to a local small college so I could save money by living at home.

For my eighteenth birthday, I had been out celebrating with some friends.

When I got home, I found a birthday card sitting on 5 banker's boxes with my stuff neatly packed inside. Oh, and a note that said, "Congratulations! Today you are a man. It is time for you to go out into the world and sink or swim. - Dad"

That was my father.

And he had changed the locks. Once I proved that to myself, I pulled the now useless key off my keychain and threw it on the welcome mat. Welcome, my ass.

That was the last time I ever went to that house. I tried crashing with friends and continuing school. But that didn't work, so I dropped out and got a job working for a network company doing the overnight shift. It was a startup and they paid well and threw stock options out like they were candy. Eventually they went public and suddenly those stock options were worth a lot of money. I cashed out, put a down payment on a cracker box house, got a roommate and went back to school for computer programming.

By my father's definition I guess I swam. I never went back. I never saw Dad again after that morning of my 18th birthday.

I opened the other bottle of scotch and poured it on what was left of the ice. I fell asleep shortly after.

Denise, my sister, was waiting after I got off the plane. I would have missed her, but she was the only one waiting by the exit from security. I lied and said she looked great. She didn't. After 3 kids, she had a 'Mom bod' as the fashion magazines like to call it.

Once we were in her car and heading out of the airport, Denise started off by saying, "I'm sorry to have to drag you into this, but Dad named both of us as executors. I have an appointment with the attorney tomorrow to go over what we are supposed to do.

"The coroner said that Dad made all the arrangements for --" and she stopped unable to continue. I put my arm on her shoulder.

"It's ok," I said. "Let me guess. He made all his own funeral arrangements in case none of us wanted to deal with him."

Denise sniffed and pulled a tissue from the pocket of her sweater and softly blew her nose. She nodded and struggled for a second before she found her voice again.

"Yes."

Another struggle and then she continued. "I was notified by the attorney yesterday late in the evening and I spent the morning trying to find you.

"One of your high school friends thought you worked for the Very Large Corporation and so I called there. It took a while before they would put me through to you."

"Thank you for going to all that trouble," I said. "I wasn't trying to hide. It was just that the last few times I saw Mom it always ended up in a big fucking dramatic scene and somebody left in tears or anger or both. And I never saw Dad after he threw me out of the house.

"I have a hotel room waiting for me near your place. I thought I would save you the trouble of putting me up," I said and then named the hotel.

Denise nodded as we pulled up to a stoplight. The only sound was the rain on the car and the windshield wipers.

"So what has been going on the last few years?" I asked trying desperately to break the silence.

Denise was quiet while we sat at the stop light. When the light turned green it was like the go signal for her words. They came out in a rush.

Apparently Mom finally kicked Dad out of the house about 6 years ago. He moved to the other side of the city and got a furnished apartment. They talked about divorce, but never got around to it. So Mom was still married to him, but Dad's will was quite specific that Mom didn't get anything. Not even a 'hello'. In fact, she was deliberately uninvited to the funeral.

There wasn't much of an estate. Dad left a bank account, 10 banker's boxes (I secretly enjoyed the irony of that about a month later when it struck me), his pension and social security checks and about $200 in credit card bills. His rent was paid up through the end of the month and there might be some damage deposit left after the cleaning crew was finished. There was also a check from some publisher in someone else's name but Denise didn't know why.

Denise wasn't sure about what to do with the checks. I said that we should ask the lawyer.

I asked about the cleaning crew and Denise pulled the car over and started to cry. Apparently I broke the knob off on the waterworks. I just leaned over and pulled her to me. At least as far as you can in bucket seats with a console in the way. There are times I hate modern cars.

It took a while for her to get it out and then as suddenly as it started, it was over. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and tried to apologize. I reached into her pocket and pulled out another tissue and gave it to her. After she wiped her eyes with the tissue and blew her nose, she apologized again and then explained.

Our father was apparently found by the landlord after one of the other tenants mentioned that he hadn't seen Dad in a few days. When the landlord opened the door, it was quite apparent why. When he was done throwing up from the smell, he called the cops. They found Dad in his recliner and he had been dead for up to a week. A quick search indicated no foul play so they called the coroner and asked the landlord for a next of kin.

The landlord was no help with next of kin, but he did give the cops a packet labelled 'In the event of my death'. That had the contact information for his attorney and a funeral home. The attorney didn't have current contact information for next of kin, so they searched his phone and found Denise's phone number. She had to go down to the morgue and make the id. It was not pretty. He had started to swell up and Denise passed out after seeing him.

I asked if she was ok to drive. Denise sniffed and nodded said, "I think so".

A few minutes later we pulled into the parking lot for the hotel. We made arrangements to meet the next morning to go see the attorney and the funeral director.

I checked in and got my room. I found it without any trouble. These chain hotels must have been built from the same blueprints, they all look the same.

I had seen a liquor store down the street as we pulled in but it was closed by the time I walked down to it. I asked clerk if there was anyplace handy that I could get a drink. He looked at me and I explained the situation. He said he was sorry and walked into the back room. He came back with a half dozen tiny bottle of whiskey. As he handed them to me, he said they use to have them in the fridges in the rooms, but it was too much bookkeeping so they stopped a few months ago. There were a couple boxes left so he raided one for me.

I told him to put them on my bill. He smiled and said they were on the house. I tipped an imaginary hat to him and headed back to my room. I stopped at the ice machine and soda machine for some ice and something to mix the booze with.

The next morning, Denise drove up a few minutes early and I stepped out of the lobby to meet her. She looked like shit. I am not sure if she had even slept. Her eyes were so red and puffy from crying I was afraid she couldn't see. I told her to switch seats so I could drive and she could navigate today. Surprisingly, she didn't fight it. She just put it park and got out.

She gave me the address of the attorney. I knew where that was, but I let her give directions and we were soon there. The town that seemed to be so big when I was a kid was really not that big. Not after some of the big cities I had lived in along the way.

The attorney turned out to be a nice older gentleman who apologized as he started a timer when we were shown in. It was just a little hint from him that we were paying by the 15 minute block. The will turned out to be pretty simple, with one small hitch. I couldn't be an executor.

Apparently, this was one of those states that require you to be a resident to be an executor. Fortunately Denise was or we would have had to pay him out the nose to be our surrogate executor.

He gave Denise a checklist of things that needed to be done and said the directions to the courthouse to probate the estate were at the bottom. He said it was pretty cut and dried. He had contacted the judge and the clerk and we should be able to do it ourselves. He said if there were any hitches just ask for a continuance and to call him at his office.

And with that he stood up concluding our appointment. He asked Denise for her address to send her his bill and I stopped him and asked "You don't need to be a resident to pay the attorney, do you?"

He said, "No."

So I gave him my address instead. As we walked out I heard the click of the timer. For an attorney, he was reasonably honest. By my watch, we were there 17 minutes. He only billed me for 15.

The funeral director, whose name was Julie, turned out to be a very nice young lady. She was appropriately patient and understanding. Dad had pre-purchased a complete funeral package including cremation. We had to pick a day for the 'Celebration of Life' as he had opted not to have a religious service. Good old agnostic Dad.

I asked if Saturday would be too soon. I was being selfish. I wanted to get it over with so I could get back to my life. She thought for a second and then excused herself.

Julie came back a few minutes later and said Saturday was possible. She had called the cremation company and found they had space in their schedule and asked if they could pick Dad up from the morgue today. She then called the coroner and made arrangements for Dad's pickup. Denise just nodded. I'm not sure it had sunk in yet.

I looked at my watch and told Denise that she should go get something to eat and I would finish up the arrangements with Julie. She looked at me blankly and then her stomach rumbled.

"Are you sure you don't need to eat," Denise asked.

I said, "I'll be fine. I don't always eat lunch. And I am not really hungry today."

Denise nodded and headed out the door. I called to her and tossed her the car keys. She snagged them out of the air. I felt better. If she could do that, she could probably drive.

I turned back to Julie. It didn't take too long to finish up. Dad had been pretty specific when he set things up. I had to pick a new funeral card as the one Dad had picked was no longer in print. He had picked out a basic urn and selected a celebration of life instead of a religious ceremony.

The second to last detail was the obituary. The phrasing was pretty boilerplate, but we had to fill in some details. The cause of death required another call to the coroner who gave a very technical explanation about coronary something and necrotic blah, blah, blah. Julie rolled her eyes and typed in 'Natural Causes'. Perfect.

After we said our thanks and hung up on the coroner, it was time for the final details about the 'Celebration of Life'. Julie pulled out the paperwork, read over the description and got a very puzzled look on her face. That got me intensely curious. She just handed me the piece of paper. It didn't look strange until I got to the bottom. In the 'Other Instructions' box was this description:

"Assuming the cremation can be held ahead of time, I want a simple urn on an undecorated stand. There should be a cardboard cutout of me holding a sign that says 'The guest of honor is not here. The bar is open next door. Have a drink on me. Richard'. In the next room, I want a full bar with a bartender serving drinks. Any excess cost over what has been paid, will be paid out of my estate." His signature was on the last line.

Some scribbled notes on the side said that the cardboard cutout would be found at his residence, but if it couldn't be found any suitable cardboard figure could be used.

Julie started to apologize saying, "My father set this up, so I --."

She stopped suddenly and looked at me like I had lost my mind when I broke out laughing. I couldn't stop. It was so much like my father to do something so outrageous.

I tried to explain this to Julie but I couldn't stop laughing, even when her assistants came running in to see what was wrong, I couldn't stop. Finally, I wound down.

"I'm sorry," I said. "I couldn't help myself. That was so like Dad to want to do something like this."

Julie tried to sound professional, but I could tell she had never had this kind of a reaction before. She kept trying to say that her father had taken the arrangements. But I stopped her.

Now that I was under control again, I asked, "Is it possible to do as he asked?"

Julie looked shocked, but recovered quickly. She looked at one of her assistants and asked if there was a second room available Saturday evening.

He didn't bother to consult anything, but answered that the 'green room' was available.

Julie turned back to me and said "I think we can accommodate you. Do you know of a bartender or service that would be available? We have never done this sort of thing before."

I said, "I might. If not I will spend tomorrow finding one. I know they are out there."

She just nodded.

She looked at everything and said, "It will take a couple of hours to get all the paperwork done and then I will need you or your sister to confirm everything and we will be ready to execute."

I took a chance and asked, "I don't have a car. Would you be willing to stop by my hotel tonight, say about seven? We can finalize the details then and I can buy you dinner."

She blushed and said "I'll be happy to stop by tonight. You don't need to buy me dinner. We try to be as accommodating as possible in your time of grief."

Just then, Denise came in. I stood up and kissed Julie's hand and thanked her for all her help.

Denise said she had gotten call from the landlord. He wanted us to stop by and pick up Dad's things. That pissed me off, but I held it down and said I would drive if she would navigate again. The apartment was paid up until the end of the month. His shit could stay there until then for all I cared.

It turned out Dad's apartment was in an older building in a nice part of town. The lawn was well kept and the building was a little worn but seemed to be in good shape. Not the rundown rat infested tenement building I had been building in my mind all this time.

The landlord had started airing the place out so when Denise and I went in, it smelled a little funky but not anything like the cops had described.

As we walked in, the landlord indicated the boxes. He said that the cops had been very thorough when they went through the apartment, but they made a mess, so he took it upon himself to box everything up so it didn't look like a robbery. He apologized for rushing things, but he needed to get the cleaning crew in as soon as possible and he didn't want anything of our father's ruined by the chemicals they were going to use.

The landlord was really a likeable guy and given the circumstances I decided he wasn't being a prick about it. So I shrugged off the anger I built up and moved on.

Looking at the boxes, I asked the landlord if he had found a cardboard cutout of Richard in one of the closets. He looked at me funny and said that he hadn't but he would be willing to help us look for it.

It took about 20 minutes of searching. I finally found it when I stood on a chair and looked on the shelf in the closet. Denise looked at me like I had grown horns even knowing about it and the landlord was apologizing for missing it. I said no problem.

I looked at Denise and asked if it would be ok to take these to her house so we could sort them out. She nodded, still staring at the folded up cutout of Dad.

I set it down while I grabbed one of the boxes. The landlord grabbed another and we went down and put them in the back of Denise's car. Thank gawd for Mom Vans. We got all 10 boxes in with room to spare once she showed me how to fold down the seats.

On the drive over to her house, she asked how I knew about the cutout. I explained about Dad's idea of a celebration of life and she looked shocked for a minute. Then she started to giggle and finally broke down in a full out laugh. I smiled remembering my reaction and started to chuckle in spite of myself.

Once we got to Denise's house, the kids ran out to see her. She explained who I was and then I was mobbed. They had never had a real live uncle before. She finally called them off and introduced them to me individually. Her kids ranged from 8 to 5, Sandy was 8, Ricky was 7 ("and a half," he proclaimed) and Cindy was 5.

I squatted down on my haunches and called them over. I told them that I was sorry that I had to pack in a hurry for this trip and I didn't have time to get them each something cool, 'cause I know that's what uncles are supposed to do. So I told them to close their eyes and hold out a hand and I would give them a surprise. They looked at each other, then closed their eyes and held out a hand. I put a $5 bill in each of their hands and told them to spend it on something special other than candy.

It took a while to get untangled from the hugs. When they finally stopped, they each said, "Thank you," without prompting from Denise before running away.

"You are raising them right," I told Denise.

It didn't take long to unload the boxes into her garage. By weight I could tell about 5 of them were clothes. I stacked these in one pile.

I told her to pick one of the others out and we would go through it and arm wrestle if we both wanted something out of it. Then I would pick one and so on until we got through them all.

The box she picked was mostly paperback books and a small wooden box.

She took one look and said, "It's all yours. No arm wrestling needed."

I took out the box and a Hemmingway novel and set them aside. I then started taking each book out and fanning the pages upside down. That got a puzzled look from Denise. After about 6 or so books, the looks I was getting from Denise started to hurt so I took pity on her.

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