Senior Companion #Open Book Blog Hop #Wednesday Words

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Welcome to another edition of Open Book Blog Hop. This week’s prompt is:  Write a scene or story that includes a character who has a phobia. What do they fear? How does this phobia affect their life?

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After making sure I had the right address, I parked my car in front of the white house with green trim. I spotted a wheelchair accessible van in the driveway and a gray station wagon in the garage. For the umpteen millionth time, I studied the information I’d been given about this guy.

Mark Fisher was nearly seventy years old. He’d suffered a stroke several years earlier and was confined to a wheelchair. He and his wife got help with his personal care and house cleaning from the senior center’s home health care program, but they never went out. I looked again at the wheelchair accessible van. Maybe it no longer worked, and they couldn’t afford to fix it.

I’d been a mechanic before going into law enforcement. I could probably fix the engine, I thought, as I climbed out of my car and locked my driver’s side door. It wasn’t too hot, and there was a nice breeze, but it may as well have been over 100 degrees, as evidenced by the sweat trickling down my back. I wished I’d told my wife what she could do with her idea of me volunteering as a senior companion now that I was retired with nothing else to do.

She still worked as the senior center’s volunteer coordinator. I still loved her and still wanted to please her. So, with trepidation, I made my way up the walk to the front door.

A newspaper lay at the bottom of the steps. The front door opened a crack, and I glimpsed a woman’s face peering at me with a weary expression. I smiled and said, “Hi, you must be Terry, Mark’s wife.”

She opened the door a little farther and gave me a weak smile. “Yeah, you must be Dennis McGuire.”

“In the flesh,” I said with a wave.

As I picked up the paper, a smile of relief crossed her face, and she said, “Oh, thank you so much. Our paper boy can’t throw a newspaper to save his soul, or maybe he does this just to spite me. Who knows?”

I thought this sounded strange but said, “Well, I was a paper boy once, and I didn’t have very good aim, either.”

Then, eyeing the overflowing box next to the steps, I asked, “Want me to grab the mail?”

“Please,” she answered, again looking relieved.

I retrieved a bunch of letters and junk and followed her inside. She quickly closed the door and took the newspaper and mail. “I’ll just put these in my office,” she said before hurrying into an adjoining room.

I found myself in a small living room. A television was tuned to a baseball game, and Mark sat in his  wheelchair nearby. Terry appeared in her office doorway. She wore jeans and a t-shirt, and I couldn’t help noticing the long, uneven, dark strands of hair that fell in waves down her back. Mark was also wearing jeans and a t-shirt. His gray hair also looked a bit scraggly, but he was clean-shaven and otherwise well-kempt.

I smiled at him and was relieved to see that he, unlike his wife, wasn’t scared of me. He grinned and extended his hand. “Hey, Dennis.”

“How you doing, buddy?” I said, walking up to him and shaking his hand.

“Great! But the Rockies are losing again. They’re rotten to the core.”

“That’s too bad. They made it to the play-offs for the World Series last year.”

“Yeah, but they must have let it go to their heads or something because they did pretty bad after that. They didn’t even come close to winning the World Series.”

“Well, maybe they’ll do better this year.”

Terry cleared her throat. “I put Mark in his wheelchair because he would like to visit with you outside. Would you mind taking him out?”

I looked uncertainly at the door through which I’d come. “Uh, I’m not sure how I’ll get him through there and down those steps.”

“Oh, no,” she said, blushing. “You can go out the kitchen door. There’s a ramp.”

“Honey,” Mark said. “Get my radio, so I can hear the game.”

“Oh, you silly goofball.” Terry laughed, as she ruffled his hair, and he grinned.

To me, she said, “It’s the bottom of the seventh inning, and the Rockies are way behind. There’s no chance they’ll win now, but he’s faithful to the end.”

“It’s not a problem,” I assured her. “Hope springs eternal, right, buddy?”

“Yep,” Mark answered with another grin.

He switched off the television with a remote control he held in his hand, then laid it on the table next to him. Terry retrieved a transistor radio from another nearby table and handed it to him. He found the station broadcasting the game.

I grasped the handles of his chair and followed Terry into a spacious kitchen. She opened another door, and I spotted a ramp that led to the driveway. “The gate to get into the yard is around back. Mark can show you.”

Looking hesitant, she added, “I can get drinks ready for you, but would you mind coming back and getting them?”

“Honey, we’ll just be outside this other door,” Mark said, pointing to a separate door at the other end of the room that I assumed led out to the yard but had no ramp.

Terry turned white as a sheet and grasped the handle of the nearby refrigerator door for support. “Mark, you know I can’t do that.”

Mark gave an exasperated sigh. Not knowing what to think, I put a hand on his shoulder and said, “It’s okay, buddy. I’ll park you out there, then come back and get the drinks.”

I turned to Terry, who looked like she was about to pass out. “Why don’t you sit down and rest? I’ll come back and make our drinks once I get him settled, okay?”

Shakily, she made her way to a nearby chair and flopped into it. “I’m so sorry,” she said, her whole body trembling. “There are just some things I can’t do anymore, like Mark can’t walk or dress himself or take himself to the bathroom anymore.”

“It’s not a problem,” I said. I was tempted to put a hand on her shoulder but thought better of it. “I’ll be right back.”

I wheeled Mark out the door, pulling it closed behind us, then down the ramp and around to the back of the house, where we entered a cement patio. Mark directed me to park him next to a picnic table in the shade of an oak tree. “This feels so good,” he said. “I haven’t been outside in a long time.”

This was odd, I thought, but I forged ahead. “What would you like to drink?”

“A beer, straight out of the can.”

“Coming right up,” I said.

Pointing to a nearby door, I asked, “Can I get back in the house this way?”

“You bet! That’ll take you through our back porch and up two steps into the kitchen.”

Inside, I found Terry still sitting where I’d left her. She wasn’t shaking any longer, and some color had returned to her cheeks. With a weak smile, she said, “There’s a case of Coors in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. There’s also a pitcher of lemonade if you’d rather have that.”

I smiled back at her. “No, beer is fine for me, too.”

To reassure her, I added, “I’ll only have one, so I’ll be able to drive home later.”

Looking relieved, she said, “Thank you again so much.”

Out in the yard, I put our beer cans on the picnic table and sat on the bench facing Mark. “Would you mind opening this?” he asked. “I can only use one hand. My stroke, you know.”

“Oh, sure,” I said, picking up his can and flipping the tab. Not realizing that a stroke might have made this task nearly impossible, I blushed.

Mark took a swig of his beer. “You must have been a bartender.”

“Yep,” I said, opening my own can and taking a swig. I was a bartender, then a mechanic, and then finally, I decided to become a policeman.”

“Wow! How long were you on the force?”

“For about forty years. I finally retired a few months ago.”

“Wow!” he said again, then belched.

“How about you?” I asked.

“Well, I majored in IT in college, then decided to open a computer store. I ran it for years but had to retire when I had my stroke.”

“That’s too bad,” I said. Then, it was my turn to belch.

I wanted to ask him about his wife but didn’t think that was a good idea.

He must have read my mind, for he said, “Terry has agoraphobia. It’s a fear of being out in public. She can’t even go out and get the mail or newspaper, let alone take me out in this yard.”

Now, it was my turn to say, “Wow!”

“Yeah, it started a few months ago. She was at the beauty shop one day when she had a panic attack. She got all sweaty and shaky, and she had trouble breathing. She somehow managed to get to her car and drive home, but she told me she couldn’t go out anymore, and she doesn’t, not even to her exercise classes at the Y, which she loves.”

“Oh, brother,” I said, now realizing why he hadn’t been outside in quite a while.

“We now get our groceries delivered, and we even get food from Schwan. She cuts her own hair and sometimes mine, but she doesn’t do a very good job.” He fingered his unruly locks and blushed.

I smiled to reassure him. “Buddy, in my years on the force, I’ve seen a lot worse. But isn’t there anything to be done about your wife’s condition?”

“She won’t see a doctor. That’s the funny thing because she used to be a nurse. She had to quit after I had my stroke and we realized I probably wouldn’t walk again. She makes some money doing freelance writing, and we get monthly disability checks from Social Security, but that’s it.”

I looked around at the green lawn and wanted to ask who mowed it, since neither Mark or Terry could. As if reading my thoughts, Mark said, “The senior center has a chore service that shovels our walks in the winter and mows our lawn in the summer. They do a pretty good job and charge us according to the income we make. I qualify for Medicaid, which covers in home health care services. So, we get along okay, financially, that is.”

“That’s good, but don’t you have any family or friends who could help?”

“My son and daughter are both married and have moved away. They have their own lives. My daughter will be coming next month with the grandkids, but my son hasn’t kept in touch much since the stroke. I guess he’s not sure how to deal with that and now his mother’s condition. Most of my friends haven’t kept in touch, either.”

We finished our beers in silence, punctuated by a belch now and then, while the game droned on. Finally, Mark reached over to where he’d lain his radio on the picnic table and switched it off. “Terry’s right. They’re not gonna win, at least not this game.”

“Well, there’s always tomorrow, right?”

“Yeah.” He smiled. “They’ll do better tomorrow.”

“By the way, does your wheelchair van still work?”

“Yeah, but we haven’t taken it anywhere in months. You know Terry…” His voice trailed off.

“Well, I can drive. So, why don’t we go, um, maybe to the barbershop, that is, if you really want a haircut.”

He grinned. “Is the Pope Catholic? I know just the place. Hank’s is on Main Street, right across the street from Wally’s Bar and Grill. Terry used to take me to both places. So, we should be able to get my chair in both of them.”

“That’s funny. I never pictured Terry as a drinker. But maybe that was before.”

“No, she’s always been more partial to Dr. Pepper than beer.”

I laughed, then, on impulse, reached over and slapped him on the back. “I’m also a Pepper. Since I’m the designated driver, that’s what I’ll be drinking.”

I stood and picked up our empty cans. “Where can I dispose of these and get the keys to the van?”

“There’s a trash can we use for recycling in Terry’s office next to the living room. She’s probably there now. She keeps the keys in the top drawer of her desk.”

“Okay.”

“It may take some convincing to get her to hand them over. I read in an article online that agoraphobia also causes separation anxiety. That’s why she won’t go and see a doctor or go anywhere else for that matter.”

“It sounds like I have my work cut out for me, but I’m up for a challenge.”

“Good luck.”

After rinsing the cans in the kitchen sink, I found Terry in her office, typing on a computer. A nearby radio was tuned to an oldies station. When I walked in, she stopped and pointed to a can underneath her desk. “You can toss those in there. Thanks. I suppose Mark wants another.”

“Nope,” I said, flinging the cans into the receptacle with a loud clatter. “I need the keys to the van. Mark wants a haircut.”

Her face turned pale, and she gripped the arms of her office chair. I waited, giving her space. Finally, she regained her composure and said, “Of course. I’m not the best of barbers.”

Her hand shook, as she reached into her desk drawer and retrieved the keys. As I took them, I squeezed her trembling hand. Then, I bent to her level and looked deep into her blue eyes, still wide with fear. “Look, I used to be a cop. If you don’t believe me, you can call the station and ask if a Dennis McGuire used to be on the force.”

She smiled. “I’ve seen your name in the paper associated with a case or two.”

“Well,” I said, standing up to my full height. “I’m sure you realize now that Mark will be safe with me. I promise I won’t drink any more beer at Wally’s, and I’ll get him back here safe and sound.”

“I know. I just can’t shake this fear, but I’m going to try, for Mark’s sake. He loves getting out.”

“Of course he does.”

Her cell phone pinged. “Oh, excuse me. That’s probably from Mark. He loves to text me, even though it takes him longer with just one hand, and he won’t use Siri.”

She picked up her phone and smiled as she read what was on the screen. “He says you like Dr. Pepper, and would I please add it to our grocery list?”

I laughed. “I understand you like it, too, and I didn’t see any in the fridge earlier. We could pick some up for you on our way home.”

“Oh, no, that won’t be necessary. We’re expecting a grocery delivery tomorrow. I can hang on till then. Thanks, anyway.”

“You’re welcome. By the way, you know you can always call Mark on his cell if you get anxious, and I’ll give you my number in case, for some reason, you can’t reach him.”

“Okay,” she said, handing me a sticky note from her desk.

After I scribbled my number and handed it to her, she did something I didn’t expect. She stood and hugged me. “Oh, Dennis, you are such a godsend. I don’t know what I would have done if the senior companion coordinator told me she didn’t have any men.”

Then, she opened another desk drawer and handed me a wallet. “This is Mark’s. There should be more than enough cash in there to cover the barber and the bar.” She winked.

“If not, I’ll take care of it,” I said, pocketing the billfold. “Thanks.”

On the radio, Bonnie Tyler was singing “Holding Out for a Hero.” Terry said, “You’re our hero.”

“No problem,” I said, blushing.

Outside, with Mark’s direction, it didn’t take me long to figure out how to use the van’s lift. As I was getting ready to load him, I noticed Terry looking out the kitchen window. Standing on the lift next to Mark’s chair, I gave her a thumbs-up, then said to Mark, “Okay, buddy, up we go.” I pressed the button to lift the wheelchair into the van.

After securing the chair to the floor and buckling Mark in, I jumped out and closed the door. Terry was still at the window. I gave her another thumbs-up before walking around to the driver’s side, climbing in, fastening my own seatbelt, and starting the engine. I was relieved it still ran, even though it hadn’t been used in months.

As I backed out of the driveway, Mark said, “Ah, now, this is the life.”

“You bet, pal!” I said, as I drove away. I was now glad my wife had insisted I volunteer as a senior companion.

Although, at least in this country, things are slowly returning to normal, a lot of older adults are still isolated. Many senior centers offer companion programs that match older adults with others who are shut in and want social interaction. If you’d like to help such a person or if you or someone you know might benefit from a companion, please contact your local senior center.

If you’d like to participate in this week’s Open Book Blog hop, click here. You can learn more about agoraphobia by reading this Wikipedia article.

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And now, I’m pleased to announce that throughout the month of July, My Ideal Partner and The Red Dress are available from Smashwords ABSOLUTELY FREE as part of its annual summer/winter sale. You can visit my Smashwords author page to download these books. Happy reading!

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

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New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Image contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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My Caregiving Journey #It’s Six-Sentence Story Thursday Link-Up

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

In January of 2006, three months after we were married, my late husband Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side. After several months in a nursing home, therapists determined that he’d reached a plateau and there was nothing more they could do for him. I found a house that could be modified for a wheelchair, and, after the necessary renovations were completed, I brought Bill home in September of 2006. He started outpatient therapy at another facility, and we hoped he would eventually get back on his feet, but in January of 2007, he suffered a second stroke, not as severe. After a couple more months of inpatient rehabilitation, he came home and returned to the outpatient facility. One day in August, when he said the therapists had given up on him and he would never walk again, I resolved to take care of him for the rest of our lives, and what a journey that was!

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Thanks to Girlie on the Edge’s six-sentence story prompt for this week, which inspired the above. To learn how you can participate, click here. You can read more about my caregiving journey in My Ideal Partner, which, along with The Red Dress, is available for free this week from Smashwords. See below for details.

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I’m pleased to announce that from now until March 13th, The Red Dress and My Ideal Partner are available from Smashwords for free as part of Read an eBook Month. You can click here to download these books.

 

By the way, for those of you who use the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, The Red Dress is available for download from their site here. No matter how you read it, please be sure to review it wherever you can. That goes for all my books. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Wind Beneath My Wings #Monday Musical Memories

The song I’m featuring today is one I sang to my late husband Bill. After his death, I realized that he was truly the wind beneath my wings.

If he hadn’t come along and persuaded me to marry him, quit my day job, and write full time, I might still be conducting music activities in nursing homes and other senior facilities. If not for him, I might still be in the apartment where I lived for years instead of in my own house with my own washer and dryer and back yard. If I hadn’t married him, I wouldn’t have five published books under my belt with a sixth on the way.

Bill was one of my biggest fans. He supported all my writing endeavors, even helping me with story ideas. I remember the day I received print copies of my first book, We Shall Overcome. I placed a copy in his hands, and because he had no vision at all, I described the front and back cover to him. With what I imagined to be his shit-eating grin, he said, “My wife, the published author.” When my second book, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver was ready to be published, he posed with me for the photo on the front cover. Whenever possible, he was at my side during book signings and other events, smiling, even though he was confined to a wheelchair as a result of two strokes. You can read more about us in My Ideal Partner: How I met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds.

On my birthday today, I’d like to give you all the gift of my gratitude to Bill for making me what I am today. Even now, this song is hard for me to sing. But as you’ll note when you press the Play button below, I somehow managed to pull it off. Enjoy!

I was inspired to share this song by a prompt. Thank you for reading.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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My Amazon Author Page

Facebook

WebsiteImage contains: Abbie, smiling.

 

Working in Public #Fiction

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The thin man with graying hair and huge glasses in the seat next to me on the airplane was squinting over his laptop. The screen was bright and had large text. He didn’t seem to be aware that I could see what was on the screen. For half an hour, I watched, fascinated, as he read his email and worked on documents.

I learned his name was Roger Newton, that he was the President of the Chase Bank branch in Casper, Wyoming, where I lived, that his wife, confined to a wheelchair, worked at a rehabilitation center for people with disabilities. The couple had no children or pets and were trying to sell their house so they could move to a condo. Then, I saw something that made my blood run cold.

An instant message appeared from someone named Dirk G. “Hey, Roger, I’m all set for tonight around eleven o’clock. You sure your wife will be in bed by then?”

“Oh, yeah,” Roger answered. “She’ll be in bed by ten. The key is underneath the mat outside the kitchen door. I disabled the alarm this morning before I left. She doesn’t know this. Try not to make too much noise. I don’t want the neighbors to hear anything, okay?”

“No problem. My pistol has a silencer. You sure your wife won’t hear me coming in the kitchen door?”

“Naw, once Carla’s out, she’s out. A train could come through the house, and she wouldn’t know it.”

“Okay, I’ll sneak in the back door, through the kitchen and living room, and right into the bedroom. I’ll have to use a flashlight so I can see what I’m doing, but if I can aim for her head, she won’t know what hit her, and she won’t feel any pain.”

“Good deal.”

“Okay, so, what about the money?”

“Carla’s jewelry case is on the bureau in front of the bed. She doesn’t keep it locked. Inside are some really expensive necklaces and bracelets I bought her over the years. You can take and sell those, and that’ll be your deposit. Once the life insurance claim settles, I should be able to write you a check for the rest.”

“Sounds great! Let me be sure I have the right address. That’s 1531 Apple Tree Lane, right?”

“Yes.”

I was a realtor in Casper. That address sounded vaguely familiar. I stood and made my way to a nearby lavatory, where I sat on the toilet and opened my phone. Sure enough, 1531 Apple Tree Lane was a house I’d shown the previous week. The woman interested in buying it needed a place that was handicap accessible because her husband had just suffered a paralyzing stroke. The house was listed with a different realty company, and she hadn’t made an offer.

Right then and there, I wanted to call my husband, Rick, a police detective, but I didn’t want to make my seat mate suspicious if he even noticed my absence. So, I stood, flushed the toilet for good measure, washed my hands, and returned to my seat. I leaned my head back, closed my eyes, and tried unsuccessfully to sleep.

The plane couldn’t have landed in Denver, Colorado, soon enough. After retrieving my baggage and rental car, all the while making sure Roger Newton wasn’t anywhere near me, I locked the car doors, and, with trembling fingers, punched in Rick’s cell number. It was only seven thirty, so he wouldn’t be at the station yet. When he answered, my voice was shaking when I said, “Oh, honey, you’re not gonna believe this.”

“Lucy, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.”

After I explained the situation, Rick gave a low whistle. “Jesus! Are you sure he didn’t see you watching him?”

“I’m pretty sure. He was hunched over that monitor the whole time, squinting. It’s a wonder he doesn’t have a headache.”

“He probably does. I sure hope he isn’t driving. I think I told you that only last week, my buddy Tyler, who works at Magic City Computers, spoke to a group of Chase Bank employees about protecting themselves while working in coffee shops or airplanes.”

“I remember that.”

“Well, he said Roger Newton, the President, wasn’t there. Go figure. Well, when I get the cuffs on him, I’ll tell him if he’d come to Tyler’s presentation, he wouldn’t be in this mess.”

I laughed, in spite of myself. “Seriously, I don’t know if there’s anything he could have done to protect himself. He looked like he was really having trouble seeing.”

“And he’s plotting to murder his wife so he can cash in on her life insurance policy. Don’t that beat all? Well, I’ll get on this right away. You stay safe. Call me when you get to the hotel, okay?”

“I will.”

I started the car and looked at my watch. The real estate convention I planned to attend wasn’t scheduled to start until nine. The Holiday Inn, where I would stay and where the convention would be held, was only about a fifteen-minute drive away. I figured I’d have plenty of time to get settled and grab a bite to eat before the first session started.

When I walked into the hotel lobby, I stopped short. Roger Newton stood at the registration counter, rubbing his temple as he spoke to the clerk. My heart pounded. His back was to me, so I didn’t think he saw me, but I wasn’t about to take any chances. I turned and marched out the way I’d come. With trembling hands, I unlocked my car, got in, and locked all doors. I drove away from the loading zone and found a secluded spot at the back end of the building, constantly checking my rear view mirror to be sure he wasn’t running after me.

After I parked, I called Rick again. When he answered, he said, “Babe, I was just about to call you. I just got off the phone with Chase Bank. Mr. Newton is in Denver at a bankers’ conference at the Holiday Inn where you’re staying.”

“I know. I just saw him in the lobby. I’m back in my car now, and I don’t think he saw me.”

“Good, look, I think you’d better skip this realtors’ convention and come home as soon as possible. This guy may not see very well but still…”

Normally, I rebelled against Rick’s protectiveness, but this time, he was right. What if Roger Newton did see me and was involved with some sort of mob? It wasn’t worth the information and insight I would gain at the convention. “Okay, I’ll see if I can get a flight out today.”

My heart sank when I discovered that there were no seats on any of the flights returning to Casper from Denver International Airport that day. I booked a seat on a flight that left early the next morning.

When I called Rick with this information, he said, “That’ll have to do. Now find another hotel, preferably with room service. You shouldn’t be going out once you get settled.”

“You’re right. I’ll see what I can do.”

The Mariott wasn’t too far, and they had a cancelation. It was more expensive than I would have liked, but it had room service, free wireless Internet, and other amenities I could use while hiding out.

Once I was settled, I called Rick to tell him where I was. “Great!” he said. “I’M heading out now to Mountain View, where Carla Newton works. Try to get some rest. I’ll be in touch.”

Despite my anxiety, I slept for a couple of hours, then spent the rest of the day working, watching television, and ordering delicious meals from room service. Every time someone knocked on the door, I looked through the peep hole and didn’t open the door until I was sure it wasn’t Roger Newton or a possible henchman.

Rick called every so often with updates. Carla Newton would spend the night at the rehab facility where she worked, since she needed specialized equipment to help with her personal care. Rick and another officer would steak out the property so they could arrest Dirk G. when he arrived. There wasn’t evidence of Roger Newton’s involvement in any criminal activity other than the plot to murder his wife.

I was still anxious when I turned in that night, but the bed was so comfortable, and I was tired. The door to my room was locked and chained, so there was no way anyone could come in without me knowing it.

When I woke the next morning, I found a text from Rick. “We nabbed him. Call me when you get to the airport. I’ll be up.”

I did just that while waiting for my flight in the terminal. “How did it go?” I asked.

“Great! This Dirk G. character was a real amateur. Right away, he told me who hired him and where he was. The Denver police have Roger Newton now.”

“That’s a relief.”

“Okay, I’ll meet you at the airport when you get into Casper.”

“You don’t have to do that. My car is there.”

“Then I’ll follow you home. Will see you then.” For once, I didn’t argue.

When my plane landed in Casper, I found Rick in the baggage claim area talking to a woman in a wheelchair. Could it be Carla Newton, I wondered. If so, what was she doing here?

Rick saw me, and we rushed into each other’s arms. After a quick embrace, he turned to the woman in the wheelchair and said, “Mrs. Newton wanted to come and thank you personally for being such a nosey seat mate to her husband.”

I smiled, bent,  and extended my hand to her. “I’m glad I could help, but I’m so sorry about all this.”

She took my hand and smiled in return, then shrugged. “I should have known something was up. I recently discovered him having an affair with a woman with two good legs. When I confronted him, he told me she meant nothing to him and the relationship was over. He then insisted I buy this life insurance policy and was so happy when I agreed. I thought a move to a new place would give us a fresh start, but I guess I was wrong. It’s a good thing we hadn’t yet signed the lease on the place we found.”

“Did you have an offer on your house?” I asked.

“Nope,” she answered. “and I called the realtor yesterday and  told him to take it off the market. I’ve got enough to deal with right now, and the last thing I need to worry about is moving. However, your husband tells me you’re a darn good realtor, so if I ever decide to sell, I’ll call you.”

“Thank you,” I said. I retrieved a business card from my purse and handed it to her.  “If there’s anything else I can do, please let me know, and again, I’m so sorry.”

“Hey, I’m alive, thanks to you, so don’t be sorry. By the way, Roger called me this morning from the Denver police station. He said somebody set him up. I told him that if he’d only taken my advice and learned braille, he could have gotten one of those braille tablets, and nobody would have been the wiser.”

 

THE END

 

The above story appears in this year’s fall/winter issue of Magnets and Ladders.

 

New! The Red Dress

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

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Anthology Depicts Disability Culture

Abbie-1

Dozen: The Best of Breath and Shadow

Edited by Chris Kuell

Copyright 2016

 

Breath and Shadow is an online magazine featuring poems, stories, and essays by authors with disabilities. Pieces here focus mainly on what it’s like to have a disability and how others treat a person with a disability. This anthology showcases the best work that appeared in the publication over the past twelve years.

It contains dark pieces such as Susan M. Silver’s short story, “I’ll Be Looking at the Moon,” in which the protagonist is dealing with a serious illness. In contrast, there’s Amy Krout-Horn’s essay, “Who Dresses You?” in which she talks about a humorous way she answered this narrow-minded question from a waitress.

Many pieces portray the relationship between a person with a disability and health care professionals such as Lizz Schumer’s essay, “Peace Protest,” in which she talks about convalescing after a fall and wondering if she inherited her grandfather’s brain cancer. Then there’s Chris Kuell’s short story, “The Interview,” in which a blind woman retaliates against a prospective employer who is unwilling to even consider the possibility of hiring her.

I would like to have seen fewer dark pieces. Nevertheless, I think this is a must-read for everyone, especially those in a profession that requires dealing directly with others: waitresses, doctors, nurses, cab drivers, etc. You don’t have to read the whole thing cover to cover. You could read perhaps one or two pieces a day. If you’re one of those narrow-minded persons who take a dim view of what people with disabilities can do, this anthology will force you to think outside the box. If you’re a person with a disability, you’ll read this and realize you’re not the only one. The people in this book, whether real or made-up, will speak to you of their experiences.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

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