Saturday, September 2, 2017

=> SHORT STORY: Will It Be Enough To Last?


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Will It Be Enough To Last?

Mandy, tall, with silky brown hair, stood at the doorway giving her husband a kiss before sending him off to work at his law firm. She had a strong desire for much more this morning, but circumstance would not permit.

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Dirk, six-three, with black-hair, could read his wife’s needs by her inviting kiss, which made the urge to take her on the spot most inviting as he cupped her derriere and pressed her womanly assets closer to him. Nonetheless, an early court time would not allow for any dallying today. Married thirteen years, she still turned him on with just a look, a touch. He copped a feel of her breast through her coveted Joe Montana jersey, and cocked his head with an irresistible smile. “Will it be enough to last?”

“Only, until we meet, later,” she said, running the tip of her tongue over her lips, while molding her hand over his erection.

“You little tease.” He smiled. “Your Mamma warned me about you.” He gave her a peck on the cheek, opened the door, and closed it behind him.

“And don’t forget it, either, baby,” she called through the door, grinning.

He stood on the other side, still smiling as he rearranged his need. “Mrs. Lowenbacher, you are pushing it,” he called back as he hit the garage door button, and then got into the car and drove away.

^ ^ ^

At 4:00 p.m., Mandy walked into her country style kitchen of warm earth tones. She dumped her car keys, purse, and two bags of groceries onto the counter of the island, just as her cell phone rang.  She quickly dug into her bottomless purse to fish for her phone. “Oh, crap! You dipstick, it’s gone to voicemail.” She swiped the screen, only to see Braxton City Medical Center as the caller. “Well, you’ll get paid, when you get paid, so cool your haunches.” Damn, hospital-billing department can just wait. Mother’s been gone a year and still they, and the insurance can’t get it together.

She put the groceries away, took a quick shower, put on her sexy, yellow sundress, which Dirk adored her in, and poured a glass of sweet tea. Even after a shower, it was a scorching Arizona day, so she put the iced glass to her cheek, “Awe, pure heaven.”

She looked at her phone and saw the voicemail light blinking. She frowned at the call that came in while she showered. Sure enough, the same number as before. I may as well bark at them again for the umpteenth time.”

She dialed, and then waited for eight rings.

“Good afternoon, Braxton City Medical Center, how may I help you today?”

“By not harassing me anymore,” Mandy spouted, “you people keep calling me to pay bills that are not mine.”

“I’m truly sorry,  Ma’am, but I’m reception. If you’ll give me your name and address, I'll be better able to verify how to route this call to the appropriate person in the billing department.

Mandy drummed her fingers on the counter-top. “My name is Mandy Marie Lowenbacher. The case number you keep calling me about is my deceased mother, Alicia Stenson, #7548221.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss, Ma’am. Please hold while I transfer you.”

The line went quiet. “Grrrr, I live to be put on hold!” While waiting, she walked to the refrigerator, pulled out the pitcher of tea, and then refilled her glass.

“Mrs. Lowenbacher,” greeted a new voice.

“Yes, that’s my name. How many times do I have to tell you people to bill my deceased mother’s insurance company? This harassment–”

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Lowenbacher, but this is not the billing department. I’m Jenna Kawalski, supervisor of nursing in the trauma unit here at the hospital. Is Dirk Jonathan Lownebacher your husband?”

Mandy’s racing heart sank to the floor. Her palms went clammy, her head spun, so she reached for a bar stool and sat down. “Y . . . yes, Dirk is my husband.”

“I’m terribly sorry, but we tried to call you earlier. Mr. Lownbacher has been shot.”

“Ohhhhh,” Mandy cried into the phone, tears running down her cheeks, “oh, noooo!”

“Please, Ma’am, you must pull yourself together. When your husband is lucid, he keeps repeating, your name. How quickly can you get here?”

She couldn’t be sure if she thought it, or actually said she was on the way, but Mandy tossed the phone into her purse, grabbed her car keys, and hurried to her car. She started to back out of the driveway, but came to a screeching halt at the curb lest she run over Carl Deevers walking his dog. He was Dirk’s best friend, and just lived down the street. She killed the engine and pounded her fists on the steering wheel. “No! No!”

“Mandy, what the hell is going on?” Carl asked, and then commanded his Irish setter, Bodacious, “Stay!”

The story rolled out in sobs as she snuffled, and then reached for a tissue from her purse.

“Don’t you move! You’re in no shape to drive!”

She didn’t argue; just remained frozen to the seat.

While hustling Bodacious to the Lowenbachers’ fenced backyard, he texted his son to come take the dog home, ASAP, and then ran back to the car. “Move over!” Carl got behind the wheel and sped off to the hospital. “I’ll drop you at the front door of the trauma center, park the car, and then find you inside.”

All she could do was nod. As soon as Carl stopped, she flew out of the car, though the doors, and ran to the desk. Although, two nurses conversed, she interrupted, “Dirk Lowenbacher,” she said out of breath, “please, I need to see him!”

A voice called her from behind, “Are you, Mrs. Lownebacher?”

Mandy spun around to face another nurse. “Yes! Please, take me to him, now!”

“I’m afraid your husband’s condition worsened. He was taken into emergency surg –”

“Shot! Who--where--what?” Nothing seemed real, as she stood rooted to the floor--her body felt suspended in the air, as if she were looking down on the scene.

“Dr. Alejandro is performing exploratory surgery to find the extent of your husband’s injuries.”

Mandy felt ill as one hand flew to her mouth, the other to her stomach.

“Oh, dear me!” Nurse Kawalksi said, as she and Nurse Carlow caught Mandy before she fainted. They helped her to a chair in the waiting room. Comfortable mauve couches, and blue overstuffed chairs filled the room, with a TV mounted in the corner, tuned to local news.

An aide brought a glass of water, a wet, cold compress, and then applied it to her neck until she began to feel better.

“Mandy, what’s happened to Dirk?” Carl asked when he walked onto the scene.

After Mandy gave permission to speak freely to Carl, Nurse Carlow explained Dirk’s condition.

Meanwhile, after the initial shock, Mandy realized, hysteria would not help. She needed to deal with reality. She sat up straight, and then cleared her throat. “Nurse Kawalski, do you know what happened?”

“Facts are sketchy, but we’re told a disgruntled client got angry with one of the attorneys at the law firm and went on a shooting spree, killing one partner, and then shot your husband before killing himself.”

“I feel numb,” Mandy said. “Where was my husband shot?”

“The abdominal cavity, I’m afraid. Oh, by the way, Mrs. Lowenbacher, this may mean something to you. Your husband kept referencing, ‘Will it be enough to last?'”

A sob escaped Mandy, and all she could do was nod. Carl sat beside her and took her hand in support.

Now that you have someone with you, Nurse Carlow and I must get back the nurses’ station. I promise, just as soon as I hear anything, I’ll update you, Mrs. Lowenbacher.”

The nurses took her leave.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Two hours later, Nurse Kawalski came into the waiting room and gave them a tentative two to three more hours more estimate on surgery, and explained the removal of Dirk’s spleen, and one kidney.

While Carl paced, Mandy sat huddled in the corner of a couch ... waiting. After a while, Carl sat at the end of the couch, leaned his elbows on his knees, and dangled his hands between his legs. “Remember that summer you and Dirk, me and Tammy went to that cabin in the Smokies?”

Mandy grinned through puffy eyes. “Yeah, it was a couple of months before Tammy gave birth to Dylan. She was big as a barn.”

Carl chuckled. “Well, that didn’t stop her from stepping on that damn ant hill, with you right behind her. Before Dirk and I could figure out what happened, you both had your pants down swatting ants, and squealing at each other to hurry up and get the little fudgers.”

Mandy couldn’t hold back her laughter. “Fat lot of good it did us. It took you guys to take off your shirts and rub our legs down with them, before we finally got rid of the little fudgers.”

Carl went quiet.

“You still miss her terribly, don’t you?

His voice cracked, “Yeah. Two years, three months, two weeks ago the cancer got her.”

Without saying a word, Mandy got up and rubbed his neck and shoulders. “She loved you so much. She used to tell me, ‘Mandy, if I lost Carl, I would never want another, because he fills up all my empty spaces with love.’”

He hung his head and cleared his throat. “I remember her telling me that not long after we were married. I told her I’d better stick around, then, because I didn’t want her to turn into the wicked witch of the west from Oz.”

“Mrs. Lownbacher,” Nurse Zawalski said.

Mandy and Carl jumped to their feet when they saw the nurse and a doctor in scrubs. “What? My husband, he’ll be okay, right?”

Carl, then Mandy shook the offered hand during introductions. “Hello, I’m Dr. Alejandro. I’m afraid it will be touch-and-go for the next few days, Mrs. Lowenbacher. There was extensive damage outside of removing your husband’s spleen and kidney. I’m sorry I can’t offer more. Nurse Zawalski will take you in to see him soon.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^
In the week since the shooting, Mandy had leaned a lot on Carl. This afternoon, however, not wanting to take advantage of a lifelong friendship, she insisted he take some time away from the hospital.

The nurses took some readings on Dirk’s monitor, checked his bandages, and then quietly left the room.

Mandy sat on a stool next to Dirk’s bed, holding his hand. Occasionally whispering kisses over his forehead, “I can’t breathe without you.”

His eyes fluttered, and he groaned.

The sound made Mandy jump to her feet. She smoothed his hair back and kissed his lips. “I’m right here, baby.”

When he opened his eyes, a tear fell onto the sheet, “is ... it ... later?”

She wiped tears of joy from her face with one hand, while holding his hand. “What if I’m teasing?”

He tried to smile as he squeezed her hand. All of sudden Dirk began to gasp for air. Monitors began to beep, bringing two nurses into the room.

While the doctors and nurses tried to stabilize Dirk, Carl arrived. When the doctor told them things could go either way, Carl stood on one side of the bed, Mandy on the other, holding Dirk’s hand.

He gave Carl a pleading look. “Not ... make it, buddy. Take ... care  ... my ... world.”

“Stop that kind of talk, you asshole. Always the dramatics since we were kids.”

“Yeah, now who’s teasing?” Mandy tried to joke through her tears.

“Kiss ...” Dirk said, blinking back more tears.

She bent to kiss him on the lips. They were cold. A chill ran through her body, but she tried to maintain.

“M & M ... will ... it be ... enough to ... last?”

“Only, until we meet later, baby,”

Dirk’s eyes closed as he breathed a couple puffs of air. Monitors began to beep as his lifeline ceased.

Carl was there to catch Mandy before she collapsed.

^ ^ ^
Tuesday afternoon, June 10, 2014, at four-o’clock p.m., Dirk Jonathon Lowenbacher left this world, all because one distraught man for whatever reasons took his anger out on him and another innocent colleague for his own selfish agenda.

Dirk would never see or hold his little girl that Mandy was going tell him about that evening over a romantic dinner. Indeed, there wasn’t enough time. Their later would never come. And for all of Mandy’s tomorrows on the horizon, there would be no more teasing. No ... it wasn't enough to last.


The End


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= Thoughts to ponder =

When, how do we stop the madness of people, who, because they believe life has dealt them a raw deal, or for whatever reason, keep them from murdering innocents, before turning their weapon on themselves?

Have we, as a society, given reign to folks because we have pampered, not disciplined, placated, instead of teaching there is consequences for wrongdoing?

When did God’s commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ become unimportant, so easy to ignore?

^ ^ ^ ^ ^
 I hope this story serves to remind us – don’t forget to thank God for the love he has blessed us with. Hold those we love a little tighter.  And, don’t forget to say ‘I love you,’ more often.
  
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* * *  Thanks to 'YouTube & Lorrie Morgan * * * 

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