- Author: Dan Padavona
Book online «Fatal Mercy Dan Padavona (reading cloud ebooks .txt) 📖». Author Dan Padavona
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I’m a pretty nice guy once you look past the grisly images in my head. Most of all, I love connecting with awesome readers like you.
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Sunday, July 12th
The grandfather clock ticked with the grim finality of a failing heart. Kay Ramsey listened at the bottom of the stairs, but couldn’t hear her husband, Lincoln. It was quiet in the master bedroom, and the silence made her wring her hands. It was just a matter of time before Lincoln passed, though she’d spent the last year lying to herself, grasping for an invisible tether of hope that someone would cure Lincoln.
She padded to the kitchen where her daughter, Ambrose, sat at the kitchen table and stared into a mug of hot chocolate. The ghosts of chicken dinner spiced the air.
“I didn’t hear anything,” Kay said, sliding into the seat across from her daughter.
“I swear Dad got out of bed.”
“Your father hasn’t risen since yesterday afternoon.” Kay played with the salt shaker and set her chin on her palm. The kitchen seemed too large without Lincoln’s presence. “Can I get you a slice of carrot cake? Mrs. Beadle brought it over this morning, and I can’t eat it by myself.”
“Why isn’t he in hospice?” Ambrose asked, ignoring the offer and swiping a dark lock off her shoulder.
“Because he wants to spend his remaining time at home.”
“But they can take care of him.”
“The nurse comes daily. There’s nothing they can do for your father that I can’t do with the nurse’s help.”
Ambrose set the mug down and glared.
“Is that true? You’re exhausted, Mom. Tell me the truth. How much sleep did you get last night?”
Kay tapped the salt shaker against the table.
“You can barely keep your eyes open. That settles it. I’m spending the night and taking care of Dad. If you don’t rest, you’ll make yourself sick.”
“What about the kids?”
“Martin can watch the kids. He’s not helpless.”
“Could have fooled me. They’re probably running the house by now.” When the joke failed to elicit the desired response, Kay set her hands on the table. “I’m sleeping next to your father tonight, and you’re going home to your husband and children. This isn’t open for discussion.”
Ambrose bit her lip. Kay’s eyes dropped to the table where her reflection stared back at her—face drawn, gray hair disheveled and unruly, the lines in her face deepening with each heartbeat. She’d married Lincoln straight out of high school. Her parents chastised Kay, told her she was too young, that they were rushing into a critical decision. They were wrong, and Kay and Lincoln had fifty-five years of marriage as evidence. As if Ambrose saw the memories flashing in Kay’s eyes, she set her elbow on the table and supported her cheek.
“You want to look at pictures, Mom? Maybe page through the wedding album over a slice of Mrs. Beadle’s carrot cake?”
A hurt laugh crawled out of Kay’s throat. She bit her hand and willed herself not to lose control in front of Ambrose. During quiet times, when the house sat vacant except for Lincoln upstairs, she cried in the basement.
“Your father was the best-looking boy in his class,” Kay said, twirling her hair around her finger. “I remember the first time he asked me to dance, how nervous I felt. As soon as he held my hand, the stress melted away. I always knew he was the one.”
“You’ve had a wonderful life together.”
Kay crossed a leg and swallowed the lump in her throat.
“So many good times. Some not so good, but that’s life. The worst was when he fought overseas. I was terrified he wouldn’t return.”
“My favorite pictures are of Dad in his Navy uniform.”
“He was so proud. Your father would have given his life for his country. No regrets. By the time he returned, our classmates had graduated college, settled into careers, and purchased homes. But I never felt we were running behind. We’d figure it out. When your father took the teller position at the First National Bank in Harmon, he swallowed his pride. He was more qualified to manage that institution than the people who’d worked there for two decades. His salary wouldn’t pay for the tiny apartment in Harmon. But he refused to let me work. Told me we’d find a way. I never doubted him.”
When Ambrose sipped the last of the hot chocolate, Kay took the mug and heated the kettle.
“How long did it take before Dad became bank manager?”
Kay opened the pantry and retrieved another packet of hot chocolate.
“When your father sets his mind to something, nobody can stand in his way. After the promotion, we gave up the apartment, paid cash for the house, and started planning a family. Then you came along, and your father had never been happier.”
Ambrose’s eyes glistened.
“Everybody loved him.”
“Not everyone.” Kay dabbed the corner of her eye with a tissue. “That bastard made your father’s life a living hell. No sympathy, even after his health took a downturn.”
Quiet poured off the walls as the women lost themselves inside memories.
“Isn’t there anything the doctors can do for Dad?”
Kay leaned against the counter.
“There’s no cure for COPD. He’s already beaten the odds, hanging on for as long as he has.”
“I can’t understand why modern medicine hasn’t solved this disease.”
“Every day he lives, there’s a chance for a breakthrough.”
Except Kay had given up believing that was true. She’d lose him any day now. The walls tilted closer. She had to get out of here before