Before I Forget


"When I found out, I paid a firm to get audio and pictures of you two together. Want to see and hear some excerpts?"

The screen was filled with a photo of Josh and her in a bed, naked, his sperm splashed across her face and chest, while an audio played.

It was her giggling.

"Can you believe how clueless they are? Twenty years and they don't suspect a thing. I feel bad for them really, especially your wife. It's gonna hurt her pretty bad to get the divorce papers. At

least the kids are out of the house."

She heard Josh laugh.

"She'll be all right. She can move in with her mother while we sell the house and split the money. Lord knows she can't afford to live there by herself. And your husband, that's the on who'll really get hurt. When you have him served and asked for seventy per cent, he'll probably have a heart attack."

She heard her voice again.

"You know I'll probably only get fifty per cent, but that's a healthy chunk. Enough, with your retirement coming up in a year, and early social security, to last us the rest of our lives. I've always wanted to go to Europe, and Scotland. Let's start there and see where it goes."

Then they went into sex talk, and she could hear herself slurping while Josh urged her on.

"Oh baby, just like that! I never get tired of your mouth! I'm close baby close. I'm gonna pull out, baby, give you a pearl necklace. Aaaah!"

She was mortified, sitting there listening to herself. The picture had changed into a slide show of her and Josh together in different positions.

They faded into the face of her husband. She had never seen such an angry look on his face.

"I wondered, if you found me so lacking, why didn't you leave. Then I discovered it was all about the money."

"Now, honey, seeing you hold me in such high regard, I thought it only fair to return the favor."

"My new will is iron clad, but if you want to spend resources you're really not going to have, feel free to try and break it."

"All my insurance policies now have our children listed as beneficiaries. You'll get nothing should I die. I prepaid for the funeral, so you won't be burdened with that debt."

"I sold the farm, all but twenty acres and the house and buildings, to that developer who's been after me for years. It was mine before we were married, and my dad had it tied up in a trust that couldn't be broken, unless I decided to sell. He tried to get me to reduce the price because of the economy, but I told him I had given him first choice, and if he didn't want to pay the price I would list it. He buckled and gave me full price."

"I moved everything out of the safety deposit box, took all the savings except ten thousand, all the bonds and investments, and moved them to another bank, and had the account put in Ronnie's name. If she feels like you deserve more she'll give it to you."

Her head was reeling. What had he done?

"I know you probably won't like living in that five bedroom house by yourself, so I did you a favor. I paid off Juniors' house. You and he will be switching. He needs more room with the baby coming, and his little two bedroom ought to suit you just fine. You don't have to thank me. Oh, and don't try to fight it, Ronnie is my executor along with Anne, and they'll have you evicted. No, this way you can act like a thoughtful mother and be a hero."

The proceeds from the sale of the land went into trust funds, divided equally between the three kids. If they feel like giving you some of it, it's up to them."

"I assure you, everything I've done has been carefully assessed and totally legal. Like I said before, fight it if you want. Also, if you try divorce me, or try to get hold of my finances by declaring me mentally incompetent, it's too late. I had myself declared incompetent a year ago, and named Ronnie my guardian."

He rested his head on his hands on the screen. When he looked up, she could see the tears.

"I don't know why you didn't love me, guess I never will. But you gave me a few good memories and three great kids. That's why I'm leaving you enough to retire in comfort. But be aware, should you blow the money on, say, trips to Europe, when it's gone it won't be replaced."

"Finally, I gave strict instructions that you were not to be placed on my visitors list at the rest home. I want what few memories I have left to be pleasant ones. Goodbye Juanita."

He sat for a moment, and then added an afterthought.

"By the time I'm gone you will have received a few surprises I left for you. Take them in the spirit they were given."

The video froze on his face, a look of despair and anger on his face.

She lay her head on the table and wept.


She didn't stay for the reading of the will, she couldn't see the point.

Ronnie saw the looks of surprise on her siblings. Each of them were moderately wealthy. If they were conservative and lived within their means, they could provide the best for their children and

live comfortably in their retirement.

Ronnie had no mercy on her mother, making her stick to the instructions in his will. After a month, she and Junior swapped houses. It did make her look like a thoughtful mother, and she did admit, she liked thee little house. It was so much easier to take care of. She lived quietly.



Juanita wondered what her boss wanted. She hardly ever asked anyone to come there, preferring to move about the building, talking while she supervised.

She looked back on her job. She wanted to go to work after Joy was born, she told David she was feeling bored. They didn't need the money, and she assured him it was just something she wanted to do. Of course he agreed, wanting to make her happy. She soon found that there wasn't a lot out there for a high school dropout. She couldn't see the sense of staying on school since she was going to marry David just as soon as she turned eighteen.

David actually got her the job, his cousin owned the rest home. It was housekeeping, and didn't pay a lot, but she had always liked to clean. She slowly moved up until she was housekeeping supervisor.

One of the perks of the job was the retirement program. If you stayed twenty years, you could retire at three quarters pay, after the age of sixty. Juanita was past sixty, but needed fifteen more months to vest. It would coincide with her taking early retirement.

She was surprised to see Josh there. They had hit a bit of a rough spot when she found out she wasn't going to inherit much. He still slipped over from time to time, but he never talked of a future together anymore, saying hey should cool it for awhile, let things blow over. The sex had gotten rougher, too. She wasn't comfortable with it, and things came to a head when he did her anally and then tried to get her to take him in her mouth. When she refused he stormed out, and they hadn't gotten together since.

"Josh! What are you doing here?"

He shrugged.

"Dunno. She said be here at three, so here I am? Think it has something to do with our play times?"

She had gotten him his job there sixteen years ago, as one of three groundskeeper/maintenance men the home employed.

Mona, the owner, called them into the office and shut the door. She sat and looked at them for a moment before slamming a file on the desk.

"You idiots! Do you know how dangerous what you've been doing was to my business? If the state inspectors had caught you having sex in one of those empty room, I could have lost my license! And Juanita, at your age! What were you thinking?"

They sat there stunned. How had she found out? They were very careful. When a room was available, she did the final inspection, and had a maintenance man[guess who] go over it before releasing it to be occupied again. They had some of their hottest sex there, quickies mostly, with an occasional head job. The fact that there was a remote possibility they could get caught heightened the excitement.

Mona flipped a few pages out of the file, two of them having sex, doggie style on the bed, her uniform skirt flipped up and his pants around his ankles, and one of her on her knees, while he leaned against a dresser with a blissful look on his face. There was little doubt what was happening.

"Just so you know, these are legal. There's a notice in every hallway about video cameras in use. This one is special. I put it in the room after David talked to me, and removed it before a resident moved in. I just wanted you to know I had these, just so you wouldn't put up too much of a fuss over what's about to happen."

"Josh, I'm sorry to inform you, due to the recent economic downturn, I'm going have to lay you off. I wish you the best in future employment. Do not expect a recommendation."

Josh exploded.

"What? You can't do that, I have eight years on the last guy, and I've only got four years to go to get vested. You can't do this to me."

Mona sighed.

"All right, if that's the way you want it. Josh Randall, you are hereby terminated for flagrant violations of the morality clause covered in our

employee rules of conduct. I note that in your file is a copy of the rules with your signature, noting that you read and understood these rules.

Please leave the property immediately. And Josh, these photos will find their way to your wife, somehow. Still don't want me to lay you off?"

Josh sagged back in the chair, defeated.

"Yes ma'am, I'll accept the layoff."

Mona smiled.

"Good, at least unemployment will give you some income while you try to find another job. Please leave now, and never come back on this property. Are we clear?"

He nodded, and left without saying another word.

Juanita sat there stunned, fearing her fate.

Mona barely concealed her hatred.

"Juanita, let me tell you what a stupid bitch you are. My first inclination was to fire you when David showed me the pictures. I was hesitant to put the camera up, but admit it was an act of self preservation. You need to get on your knees and thank God David didn't want you fired. After he explained what he wanted, it gave me a greater respect for him."

She sat back and looked at her severely.

"Juanita Childers, in light of recent activities, I am removing you from your supervisory position and demoting you to part time. From now on, you are allowed two days a week, on Friday and Saturday. You know what a hard time we have getting people to work the weekends, this solves all our problems."

"You get to keep your job, and I get reliable help on the weekends."

Juanita broke into tears. Mona slapped the folder down again.

"If this isn't acceptable, you can always quit. But think about it, this way you get to keep your job and still earn your retirement. Since it's based on hours, and you're going from forty to sixteen, it'll take you until you're sixty seven to vest, but it's not like you're going on pleasure cruises or traveling soon, now is it. Take it or leave it, Juanita, but I need your answer right now."

Juanita was trapped and knew it, so she agreed.

Mona felt a little pity for her.

"It's not that bad. You can still retire next year and work. Your pay won't even effect what you draw. If you behave yourself, in a year or so I'll give you more hours."




His face filled the screen. He had a big smile on his face.

"Joy-Joy, did I ever tell you why I called you that? It was because you gave me twice the joy in my middle years than I deserved. Your mother got to name the other two, but I insisted on your name, Joy Elizabeth. Elizabeth was in honor of your great grandmother, I wish you could have met her."

"You gave me a great gift. Ronnie was so much older than you it was like I got a first daughter all over again. I can't tell you how many times you lived up to your name over the years. Every time I felt low, you were always there to cheer me up. I can't tell you how sad I was when you went off to college, But it's life. It was time for you to start seeking your own destiny."

His face got serious.

"Joy-Joy, I need you to understand something. No matter what some lines on a test say, your mine. My baby girl, and you always will be. If you've never believed anything else I've ever told you, believe this. I love you dearly, my daughter."

He paused, still looking serious.

"Speaking of love, baby, everyone knows you're gay. Even as clueless as Junior is, even he figured it out."

"I knew when you were thirteen, and I found your brothers old Playboys and other skin magazines where you hid them in the barn. I knew when you and Sidney got together your junior year and went to the prom together, saying you couldn't find boys interesting enough to take you. You even bought corsages for each other. It was no surprise you guys went to the same college and shared a two bedroom apartment. You don't know how many times I wanted to tell you to stop fooling around and get a one bedroom, until I visited you and saw you guys had turned the other bedroom into a study room. So stop goofing around, and come out. We'll all act surprised if you want us to."

He added it as an after thought not to be surprised if her mother doesn't take it well.

"That being said, I'm glad Sidney is an economics major. Let her keep up with the money I'm giving you. Artists aren't generally known for their keen business sense."

"I'm glad you're going to be an artist. You have a rare gift, your paintings are like snapshots of a soul. Remember that pencil sketch you made of you and I when you were ten of us walking across the field, with the two boxers I had at the time?

That's when I knew what a talent you were. If you remember, the next month I started your art lessons."

"I framed that sketch, it had a place of honor on the wall right across from my desk. It's in my will, that when I pass it is to be placed in my casket with me, along with the baseball Junior hit to win the county championship, and the first place certificate Ronnie got in the regional science and math fair. I'm so proud of all of you."

There was more, but she couldn't stand to finish then.



"Jane, I need you to do something for me. Watch over Junior. He's a gentle soul and has always been partial to his mother. That's why what I'm leaving you two is in both your names. If he's not careful, she'll wheedle most of what I give you away from him."

"By now you should be living in our old house. It was built by my grandfather, but I kept it up and added improvements. It's a house used to the sounds of children, so it should be happy you're there."

"I know things were a little rough for you two, with you being laid off and his hours being cut. I have a request."

"You should have ample money for you to go back to school and finish your degree. If you do, Ronnie has a spot waiting for you, maybe even a partnership down the line."

"Junior has always been a mechanic at heart. Try to get him to go to diesel school, the work is more steady and he won't be gone overnight anymore. I've redone one of the farm sheds and fixed it up, all he has to do is go to work when he gets his certificate. There's always work for a good mechanic."

"I want Bobby to have my truck. It's a little old, but it's in good shape and doesn't have many miles on it. He's fifteen, he'll be driving soon.

Give little Dave the farm equipment, he was the one most likely to be a farmer. I left you enough acres he can do some experimenting with, just to see if he likes it. I also want you to give him Elvis. He's dumb as a rock, but he's loyal, and he and Dave have always gotten along."

"I'm sorry I won't get to see them become adults. and I want you to promise me on your soul when your little girl is born you bring her to see me."

"I hope you have a good life. Watch out for your family for me."

"Oh, and don't get stupid and name your daughter Davida. I don't like the way it sounds."



"Well I did it, girl, forced Joy to come out."

"Treat her well, give her the love she needs. Look out for her, you know she's an idiot when it comes to practical matters, especially money. I know you're the dominant one in the relationship, so the burden falls to you."

"And Sid, I'm glad she found you. I hope your lives turn out well. And come see me Sid, just you, occasionally, So we can know each other better."



Eight adults, seven children, ten tents. It looked like a band of gypsies had descended on the campground. They ate breakfast the next morning, the three adults cooking lost count of the pancakes and sausage they cooked. The cooks rested while everyone else cleaned. The kids who were small enough played in the creek under watchful eyes, while the two teen girls and two teen boys wandered off in search of people their own age.

They ate a light lunch and started packing backpacks and boxes. Soon the whole group were filing up the hill in a column, slowly enough the children could keep up. A little eighteen month old girl was handed from adult to adult as they tired.

Forty minutes later the arrived at Baker's Point. There was a forty two inch wall on the drop side, and warnings were posted. The wall had a plaque near the end.

"In honor of David Childers, who accidentally fell from here 4-14-11. Erected by his children in his honor. Rest In Peace, Dad."

Soon two small tents was erected and there was a bustle among the females. Soon the strains of a string quartet were heard, and five minutes later the wedding march commenced.

Joy emerged from one tent, Sidney from the other. They were dressed in identical white dresses, and carried matching bouquets. They walked towards the makeshift altar with Ronnie, Jane and their daughters on one side, and Phil, Junior, and his sons, and the two small sons of their preacher on the other. The preacher and his wife stood at the makeshift altar.

When the music stopped the ceremony began. Same sex marriage had become legal in their state two months before, and it had taken that long to coordinate everyone's schedules.

When the reverend asked "Who gives this woman in marriage", Joy looked at the portrait carefully placed beside her.

"My father does" she said in a calm, confident voice.

For the rest of her life as an acclaimed artist, if she was ever asked what she considered her masterpiece, she would point it out.

"Portrait Of Me And My Father" showed a pale blue sky beating down on a finely furrowed field. A little blond girl, around six years ole, was holding a man;s hand and looking up at him. You could see the love in her eyes. She was barefoot, weaing a little white shift. You could see the dirt stains on the tail. The man was looking down, smiling. He was wearing boots, overalls, and a dirty white t shirt. His bald head was gleaming in the sunlight. Two boxers pranced around the pair, kicking up small puffs of dirt.

She had won three awards with it, and had several very lucrative offers to buy it, but she could never part with it.

After the ceremony, and the hugs and kisses, the others started repacking everything.

Ronnie, Phil, Joy, Sidney, Jane and Junior took a small cooler and walked to the end of the point. The cooler contained flower petals, which Joy, Ronnie, and Junior tossed over the wall and down into the water. The spouses stood back and watched, then hugged each in turn before heading back.

Elvis couldn't wait to get back down the trail. "Little" Dave, now six feet tall, held him firmly as he whined. He petted him.

"I know Elvis, we all miss him."

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