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EARLY ROUGH ROOUGH RAW DRAFT Actually I’ve been working on this for 10 years

 

Elemeno Pee

Amelia traveled from San Diego to do this, all alone, with the portable oxygen tank in her oversized handbag and tubes in her nose. She stashed her morphine drip device in her carry-on bag, just in case, so that no amount of physical pain would prevent her from experiencing the raw emotion of what she needed to see after sixty-seven years away from nhome, one last time.

She packed her bags in stealth and sneaked to the airport in a yellow taxi cab before anyone would notice she was missing, not the home and not her granddaughter who visited her daily. They were planning to take her out of her apartment and put into the care center the following day. She’d seen this happen to many of her friends at her luxurious five-star retirement home and they did not return.

Amelia purchased a one-way ticket.

The airline people were terrific. They met her at the curb and helped speed through the security check, telling her no, no she didn’t need to produce her passport because she was only flying to Chicago. She fished out the driver’s license from her pocket book, which she kept current in the spirit of independence but never intended to drive again. At the age of ninety-seven she had earned her privileges and didn’t intend to give them up, not to her grandson the cloying lawyer who demanded power of attorney, not to her single-mom granddaughter who demanded a bigger stake in the will for her children, not to all the cousins and in-laws who demanded a place in line for her formidable estate, . She had outlived her three children and as the matriarch of the family she was going to take charge of her own affairs.

“I see that you are of drinking age, Ma’m,” said the corpulent TSA official examining her license. “By way, you wouldn’t happen to be carrying a gun or other dangerous substances?”

“Why don’t you put me through your naked machine to see for yourself, buster,” she said. “I thought we mustn’t say the words gun or bomb in this line.”

A very kind young man who identified himself as the captain of the aircraft escorted her to the gate in a wheelchair so she didn’t have to use her cane. She had asked for special accommodations when she bought her ticket, in deference to her advanced age, but hadn’t counted on such royal treatment.

“How nice,” Amelia said to the captain as he wheel to her first lass seat on his way to the cockpit. “Thank you, young man, how very splendid this is.”

The fight attendant was taken aback when Amelia ordered a Bloody Mary before take-off, “a stiff one without the celery, please.”

She had made an arrangement with the Ritz Carlton to have Jacob meet her at the gate. She was relieved to see what a handsome and very polite man he was. She felt at ease and safe as he wheeled her to the curb, where her baggage awaited her. She felt like a queen when he opened the door of the Lincoln Town Car with a bow and apologized for the traffic congestion they’d encounter on the way to the city. She was delighted that her lawyer mamaged to find him and that he was going to her driver. “I’m in no hurry,” she said. “I’m not going to expire on the way. I have important business to attend to before I go. But please forgive me for wheezing back here. It’s such a terrible nuisance.”

Jacob could see in the rear view mirror the twinkle in Amelia’s eyes and her wide wrinkled grin. “My name is Jacob,” he said. “I work for the Ritz, madam, and I’m assigned to be your driver r for the duration. Just call the front desk and I’ll be at your service.”

A driver was included in the special $1,200 a night “Lady’s Penthouse Suite” package that Amelia booked and she could think of no better way to follow through on her plan.. The suite was decorated with red velvet and flowery chintz and had large windows facing Lake Michigan, offering a stunning view of sailboats, azure water, and in the distance to the south the thin peninsula with the round black temple of the Adler Planetarium at its tip.

“Tomorrow morning I shall visit the Art Institute,” she said to the familiar old woman wearing cold cream in the bathroom mirror as she readied for bed.. “And then go to the South Side. Jacob is a strong young man and he will protect me.”

As the sun was setting and turning the lake gray, Amelia ordered a bowl of lobster bisque and Saltines from room service. She sipped and nibbled as she watched gory images of the Iraq War on CNN before turning off the television in disgust. “The killing will never stop,” she moaned. “All my long life the killing and the sickness and the meaningless death haven’t stopped.” She took two clicks of morphine to soothe the pain in her chest and in her heart then went to bed at eight o’clock to dream.

Amelia was awake before dawn feeling positively ebullient in her anticipation of the marvelous day she had planned. She dressed herself in her yellow suit, the one with wide lapels she wore during her honeymoon in Dublin so may years ago. It’s back in fashion, she believed, and it still fits, even if it was a little too snug at the hips. The good news is that I’m not wasting away, she thought. I’m going to look good in my coffin.

She heard the rattling of a room service cart approaching her door just as the sun peeked over the horizon and glazed the lake in a soft sheen. She ordered toast and jelly, a crab Louie, and a Mimosa. Sunday brunch at 6:15 am.

Jacob told her that he wouldn’t be on duty until eight o’clock so she lingered over breakfast and phoned for a second forbidden mimosa, this time with Stolichnaya, please. The first one didn’t taste quite right. Too sticky and no zing. She could discern the delicate difference in the tastes of her vodkas after a lifetime of martinis.

“You mean Champagne, madam? We aim to pleas our special guests, but our Mimosa are made from fresh-squeezed orange juice and Dom Perignom, champagne not vodka.”

“No wonder the first one was so bad,” Amelia said. “I don’t know where you people come from, maybe France, but I’m a Chicagoan, born and bred. We drink our Mimosas with vodka, and we don’t waste good champagne on OJ. The thought of it is absurd, young man,” she said. “May I ask you to please send up a Chicago- style Mimosa, with Stoly?”

She must ask the concierge to check the opening time of the Art Institute before summoning Jacob, she reckoned. Her strongest memory of the museum went back eighty years. She’d survived he first of her operations, against the odds, and after a month of recuperation in the hospital her jubilant father took a week off from work to play tourist in the city where she was born, to places she loved as a little girl but didn’t expect to ever see again. It was before Papa had to sell the car to pay down the debts from his failing business. In her mind’s eye and she saw grand figure he was behind the wheel of the Pontiac, an oversized man with a bushy moustache and an unlit cigar sagging over his lower lip. Their first stop was the Chicago Institute of Art . “Nothing so splendid as this in Ireland,” he said as they strolled trough the galleries. “You and I are so lucky to see this, my little charming Amelia. We live in the greatest city in the world with high culture and unlimited opportunity. Our Chicago is a city of intelligence and brawn. A worker’s city. A cultured city that should give us great pride.”

Papa always talked too much about these things. But Amelia remembered being enthralled by the impressionists and felt as the she were traveling in Europe. She imagined herself as an American princess on a grande tour with her daddy. But that was never to be. Her father’s once prosperous electrical contracting business went bust in the early days of the depression after he lost his his premier clients, the movie palaces clustered around State Street. People were flocking to the movies like never before, but no one was building new theaters after the capital dried up. The proud man was reduced to scrambling for odd jobs as an electrician. That was just before the second life-threatening operation on her inflamed and tangled intestines. When the banks could no longer let him draw on his line of credit he took out loans from the Irish mob to pay the hospital bill.

Amelia was finishing up her mimosa when the phone rang. It was Jacob asking if she was ready for the day’s adventure. Trembling with exitement, she reinserted the oxygen tubes, which she’d removed for breakfast, put on her gloves and made sure she had her bag with the morphine and the old clock. I mustn’t forget the clock, she mumbled to herself. How could I carry out my mission without the clock?LMNOP 3

The Art Institute was exactly as she remembered, the stately granite edifice, the lions guarding the steep steps that led to the grand entrance to the museum. Jacob arranged to have a docent meet them at the bottom of the ramp at the side entrance with a wheelchair, but Amelia would have none of that. She insisted on having Jacob take her back to the front of museum so she touch the lions. Papa always let her and her brother Teddy climb up to the back of the lion on the left and took a photograph of his beaming children with his new Beau Brownie The photos were usually fuzzy, but the camera was one of his prized possessions. Oh, she would die to see one of those pictures now. It broke her fathers heart when he had to pawn the Browne to settle debts.

“It’s tempting, but I rather doubt I could climb those steps now,” she said, eliciting a broad smile from her driver. “You see, my balance is not very good these days, but I still have plenty of muscle, just like Papa’s city. The city of broad shoulders.”

She grabbed Jacob’s arm with one hand and jabbed her cane on the granite steps with the other as the anxious docent spotted her from behind all the way to the top. “Please take a rest here, Mrs. Murphy,” Jacob said. “You’ll get winded.”

“Why do you think I have these god-damned oxygen tubes up my nose? They’re not for decoration! Being feeble is of no consequence on this pilgrimage,” she said with a slight wheeze. “Onward Christian soldiers!”

It turned out Jacob knew much more about the exhibits than their hapless docent. He’d been a fine arts major and spent days-on-end studying the collection, until his mother persuaded him to give up his art for a more practical career. She’d say you can always paint once you get your MD, he explained to Amelia when she was back in her wheelchair after caning her way through the Dutch Masters gallery. “But Mama wasn’t very practical herself,” he said, wondering why he was sharing his personal story with a strange old woman. “I got into Pritzer, but there was no money for tuition, just loans.”

“It’s such a shame, Jacob, if I’d only known,” she said. “But thank God I’ve found you at last. There was so much shame, society was so cruel, it was all taboo back then and I’ve been such a coward.”

Amelia could see Jacob shrink away after hearing this burst of nonsensical emotion, the ranting of a senile old woman. I’m scaring him away, she warned herself, just as we were starting to become intimate. Take your time you silly old goose, wait until he’s ready.

Jacob shared her love with the impressionists. He took her through the galleries to show her one of his favorite paintings, Gauguin’s Day of the God, with the blazing colors of a Polynesian shoreline scene featuring the pagan god Hina in the center surrounded by dancers, women carrying food to the goddess, a flute player, a couple in embrace and three naked women languishing by the water.

“He painted this after he returned to Paris from Tahiti in 1893,” Jacob explained, “when he was flat broke and losing his reputation. The painting represents his interpretation of Polynesian religion, It’s one his masterpieces.”

INSER: MORE ABOUT EMOTIONAL CONNECTION

Amelia had seen the painting only in books and was moved to tears seeing the real thing right in front of her eyes and hearing Jacob’s interpretation. They were rolling through the museum’s renowned Matisse gallery with great reverence when Amelia steered them to pointillism.

“Sunday in the Park with George is a postcard cliché now, they ruined it with that musical. But I still love it. I spent hours sitting there on that bench when I was a little girl, watching it shimmer. If I squinted hard enough at the tiny dots blurred and the lady with the parasol and the big rump stepped off the canvas and wiggled like a stereoscope. Come, Jacob, let’s sit on the bench and squint.”

Jacob sat next to her and squinted to humor his daffy old client.

“That’s George in the top hat hiding behind the lady,” Amelia pointed out. “Very subtle and sneaky.”

They ate lunch in the classy restaurant reserved for patrons of the Art Institute on the third floor. Amelia had been a donor for years without managing to visit. Jacob protested at first, No, no. it’s against policy and he had a turkey sandwich in the glove compartment of the Town Car. But Amelia insisted he join her for a proper meal and made suggestions like mother hen, something nutritious like the lamb stew special or the grilled Coho salmon wth asparagus. She ordered French toast for herself.

“My mother had a big butt like that lady in the George painting, but she didn’t need a bustle,” she said. “She was a big-boned farm girl from South Dakota, tough, mean and single-minded, one the first woman to enroll in the in the state university and then came to Chicago to earn a master’s degree in education. That kind of education was rare for a woman at turn of the century. But my mother was a monster when I was a little girl. She beat me when I was naughty and even when I wasn’t. She spared Teddy because he was a special child wo needed protection. I was the whipping boy, as they say, or whipping girl, and I got blamed whenever Teddy misbehaved. I was happy to save him because he needed saving. Papa protested but also knew I could take it. He was beaten mercilessly growing up in Ireland and once told me it was okay brcause it made him tough.

Amelia paused to adjust her oxygen tubes then wave to the waiter for another glass of wine. Her companion was driving and refused to partake, she pointed out the girl.

Jacob had been hanging on every word. “It sounds a little little like my family,” said. “I’m the only one who survived intact. Please go on, Mrs. Murphy You’re a very good story teller.”

“It’s Amelia, Jacob, not M’am or Mrs.” she said, “And thank you for listening to the antedotage of a senile old woman so politely You see, my mother was not a bad person. She was distressed and exhausted from working two jobs in the midst of the Great Depression when my father’s business failed, She taught fifth grade in the day and worked as a seamstress in a sweatshop at night. I’ve learned to forgive her. But let me tell you how the beating’s stopped. Teddy broke a vase and of course I was blamed and caught hell for it. She threatenedwith another bare-bottom spanking but this time I wrested free from her iron grip and started running around the dining room table and she gave chase. I can’t explain why, but I started singing Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf . . .

“Mama stopped in tracks and started howling with laughter. She bent down laughing until she came to tears, doubled-up and laughing uncontrollably, and then started sobbed. I didn’t recall hearing her laugh before then. She never laid a hand on me beat me after that day. I broke the spell. Soon after that she allowed me into forbidden territory, her sacred kitchen, and started teaching me how to cook. The first dish we made together was peach cobbler, a special treat, Teddy’s favorite.”

There was a long, reverent silence until Jacob asked her to tell him more about her brother Teddy. He was getting more and more curious, It was like his own family lore.

“That can wait for now,” Amelia said as she paid the check with cash, carefully smoothing out the bills and counting out the coins. “Let’s go down to the South Side now. We have business to attend to, don’t we? Say, did we remember to bring the clock? I hope we don’t have to go back to the hotel to fetch it.”

“No, Amelia. That old clock of yours safe and sound on the passenger’s seat where you put it, all wrapped up,” he said. “Where was it on the South Side you wanted to go? Did you know I grew up down there?”

“Yes, I know,” she said. “It was very different from now when I was growing up there. It was all Irish in that area then. The Italians lived on the other side of the tracks.”

Jacob was beginning to grow irritated by the old woman’s presumption of knowledge bout his life, across a wide chasm of time and race. These remarks were the only hints of senility in an otherwise lucid mind, expressing unknowable intimacy that transcended race and time. But ii was best to humor the old white woman, he thought.

“Take me home, please,” she said. “It’s 539 Blackstone Avenue. I need to meet the people who live there now.”

“Okay, if that’s what you want to do,” he said. “But you understand there haven’t been any Irish living in that area for a long, long time.”

“I perfectly understand that. You seem skeptical about my mission,” she said, getting a little testy. “Black families started moving in after war and the whites all fled like chickens to the suburbs. It was racist, Jacob. But I liked the changes in the community. I had wonderful new neighbors. I stayed until 1951, one of the last sell. That’s when Teddy had to be institutionalized and that’s when we moved to Glen Ellen with the baby. Better schools, we said. I don’t know.”

“My mother did the exact same thing,” Jacob said. “.She took me to La Grange after my dad disappeared, for the high school.”

“I’m so sorry, Jacob. It must be a terrible loss. Of all people in the world your mother was the one I truly wanted to see. I prayed for her for seventy years. I can never forgive myself . . . ”

“Wait, what are taking about, Amelia? You knew my mother? Shit, why didn’t you tell me that in the first place. You’ve been lying to me about something,” he said. His voiced pitched and trembling. “Tell me the whole story, now!”

Amelia lowered her head, wheezed and groaned as though this was the moment she was going to die. She quickly recovered and sat up straight.

“My dear Jacob,” she said. “Maybe it would be best if you met me by the side ramp after all. I’m afraid I’d fall and breake my hip going down those steps,” she said. “It’s not bad climbing up the steps, but it’s treacherous going down.”

“During the long convelescenc afrer the seconnd operatiion on my gut Papa came to visit me every day, just like did when I was eight years old, only he stayed longer and didn’t have to rush out for businenes. He had plenty of tim” Amelia told Jacob as thet were driving south on xxx Avenue. “This time instead of children’s books he read Twaun and Dickens, aad he challednged me to read to read to him, books way beyond the level of a 13yea old, Chekov, xxx. And xxx. Papa was unschooled but a learned man. He taught himself. Not unlike your grandxfather.”

Jacob gipped the wheel and clenched his teeth, but went on listening.

“The day before I was discharged he drew his face close mine and said said somethag that scared me. was It was a premanition, Jacob, I didn’t know why. ‘Promise me you’ll take care of Teddy, my sweat child. You’re the only one who speaks his language and you’re the only one who can teach him ours. Do what I tried but failed to do for my beautul son.’ My father was a saint, Jaco, a saint,” she said.

“A year later I found him slumped on the floor of his study. It was a sudden heart attack,” she said. “Papa’s cigar was still burning in the clay ashtray Teddy made at his special school.”

For a long spell the only sound was the purring of the Town Car’s engine. Jacob took a smooth left on Blackstone Avenue and glided for a block before stopping and looking over his shoulder.

“Is this the right steet Amelia?” he said. “Are you sure you want to go down there?” He saw in the rear-view mirror his passenger heaving short breaths, holding the oxygen tubes tight to her nose, smiling and frowning at the same time.

“Drive on,” she said.

* * *

Amelia was determined to use her cane and not be wheel from from the driveway to the to the front door, refusing Jacob’s arm. “You can’t clutch the clock safely when you’re holdong up an a t(d)ottering old woman,” she said.

She pushed the white button by the door and listed to the doorbell chime in the front hallway, the same gentlr sound she’d heard in her youth that always lifted the anticipation of new visitor. After short wait a gorgeous young woman dressed in a blue blazer and a gray skirt pulled open the heavy oak door, looking a haggard, as though she was rushing to get to work on time. She studied her visitors and broke into a broad smile that could be described as suspicious but at same time welcoming. Bemused, she saw a frail old white woman in yellow, raising her head head high in triump.. She noticed the silver cane, the gnarly fingers, the oxygen tubes. Next to the strange lady a handsome and black man held a large clock.

Amelia broke the spell.

“We’re very sorry to intrude on your privicy, Miss. My my name is Amelia Murphy Stein and I have cone to return a a clock that is rigntfully yours,” Amelia said. “You wouldn’t know me but I grew up in this house. I love this house. I hated to let it go.”

The smiling young woman ushered Amelia and Jacob inside with great cordiality.

“Please come in,” she said. “You’re very welcome here, Mrs. Stein. My grandfather told the story o n. “The owner sized him up and she said he remind her of a very fine man she once knew and she wanted a good family to grow up here, just like her’s. Nobody believed him. It was another one of his tall tale he told us over Sunday dinners”

“I suppose I’m that woman, although it may not have been that easy,” Amelia said, lowering her head. “But I think it turned the way I prayed for. And now I must return the clock, the timeiece that sat on the mantle. It was there when my father bought the house in 1918. I tookd it to remind me of the happy and sad days of my youth, but it belongs there now. Please take this dusty old clock a d restore it to it’s rightful place.”

She shuddered when she saw door ajar across the room, the one opening to the study where her father dropped dead. Instinctively she sniffed for cigar smoke, but it was gone, not even a trace.

* * *

Amelia instructed Jacob to drive around the area so she could take stock of how it changed over the past decades. What she saw was a reasurring, a middle-chase neigherhood with brightly painted houses, rose bushes in well-kept front lawns, shade trees, granit curbs. She pointed out the elementary school, the fire house, the parish church, whi ch was now Pentecostal. She guided Jacob to the sandlot where she played baseball. She was a tomboy, tall and althletic, the only girl allowed in the pickup games because she proved herself as an ace pitcher. Now the lot was a beuatiful park with freshly-cut grass, fower beds and towering elms and oaks where black and Latino mothers watched over small children squealing down a slide. It as delightful and then menacing when she saw two groups of teenagers milling around the basketball court at the back of the park, black against brown, all wearing baggy shorts reaching their calves. She flashed back to the time when gangs of Italian boys crossed over the railroad tracks that separated their two comunities to make trouble wit the Irish. Amelisa was scared and asked to be driven away quickly.

“it’s such a shame. They have pistols now instead of knives and brickbats,” she said. “I fear for the little ones.”

“The South Side is decieving. It may look middle-class – this is no housing project here, but there’s bad stuff on the streets,” Jacob said. “They used to beat me up because I read books and refused to jump in. I was the punching bag.”

They were heading north on Lakeshore when Amelia dove into the story of Teddy, her younger brother, the problem child.

“A month before he died Papa pulled me aside and sat me down on the setee for a conversation, as he sometime did when he was disappointed in me. This time he handed me a baseball. Can you believe it? My very first baseball! I’ll take it to Wrigley Field and ask Rogers Hornsby to sign it, I thought. But then Papa got serious and looked me in the eye. He said ‘My sweet darling Amelia, listen to me now, I want you to take care of Teddy. Your mother’s not up to the task. She blames herseft for his condition and can’t think straight about. She’s overwhelmed as it is, Take care of Teddy, please, take care of my little boy.’ And so I’ve allways taken care of Teddy, the best I could, whether he liked it or not.”

“What was wrong with him?” Jacob asked. “It sounds like your father put an awful burden on you when you were so young. How old were you at the time?”

“I was fourteen, just a child, but that was the end of my childhoods My job was to get Teddy back in shool agin. The nuns sent him home saying he was incorrigible and my mother, the school teacher had no idea what to do. He hadn’t learn count to ten. He learned his ABCs then he forgot them. He’d stop at Q.”

Jacob was listening inently but he was at a loss for words. The leather-seated Lincoln Town Car fell ssilent as they motored up Michigan Avernue until Amelia said she wanted to visit the Field Museum.

“I was an Anthropology major a the University of Chicago, you know, before I married and my husband took me to Boston for his residency. It’s one of my deepest regrets that I never got my degree. I turned into a boring holusewife,” she said. “That’s where I met your grandfather, Jacob, and it’s aways been a sacred and secret place for me. The Field Museum.”

Jacob choked when he heard her say this. He was speechless, and almost swirved off the road. The story took a dangerous turn, he tought and he didn’t what he could ask. Did she know all abut him because of his grandfather? All he could do was conture let her talk and hope the mystery would gain clarity in her mosaic of digressions.

Amemia resumed her story about Teddy in her wheelchair to the rear entrance of the museum.

“I’ve done enough stairs for the day,” she said. “Now, where was I? I was telling you about my brother. I made him sit down in the parlor every night after I finised doing the dishes and we worked on his so-ca;;ed academics. The primers he’d been given were useless because he couldn’t concentrate, so I tried to jazz things up a little, make up games and such. The first step in our routine was the numbers. I tried siinging and dancing with hin while we counted. He loved iCole Porter, but but we never got very far. His limit was eight. ‘Seven, ate,’ he’d say, ‘I ate a cake Sis, get itit?’ Very funny, I’d say. The next number is nine,Teddy, can you please say nine?”

Jacob stopped pushing the wheel chair and parked it in shade. He didn’t want the tho story to stop when they entered the museum.

“Teddy was a real joker and it was the same with alphabet,” she said, sighing in exaserbtiion as she relivwed the tutoring chores. “We’d be going smoothly through the ABC song the

n he’d stop with the same wise crack. ‘Elemeno pee, don’t you see? Elemeno pee, I got to pee!’ Sometimes I wanted to slap him, then I’d remember what Papa asked me to do. Take care of Teddy.

Jacob had enough. He tried his to be patient in piecing togher the ramblings of the ancint white lady, His mother was a devout Christian and she raised him to respect the elderly, to listen to and receive their wisdom, to be kind and considerate to all people, to forgive and love his those who hurt him. Now that she had passed he honored the values that a struggling and self-sacricrficing single mothrt had passed on. But the old lady was teasing and hurting him and it was all he could to suppress his anger at her cruelity.

“Stop it now, Ameelia,” he said squeezing the grips of the wheelchair so hard it hurt his fingers’ “I really appreciate all the interesting tales you’re telling me about your pasty, but you can’t keep mentiong my familiy like you know us. You can’t just mention , meeting my grandfather and missing my my mother without explaing what your talking about. It’s an insult to to my for famly.”

“It’s the same family, Jacob,” she whispered. The echoes of the musum’s grand hallways and exibit rooms made it hard for Jacob to hear her. Amelis was gazing at the splendid Saber-tooth tiger exhibit when she dug into her tote bage to withdraw the morphine kit. She knew how to insert the catheter and didn’t give a damn anymore if people saw her do this in public. Three clicks, more than her ususal dose. “You’re going to be a fine doctor, Jacob.”

“What?” was all he could say.

“He was the finest man I’ve ever known, oh God, the bravest. But it had to be kept secret, then and all these years later,” she said. “They made love illegal in thoses days. It was a taboo so stong that it destoyed families and put a mark on a girl as an an evil whore . The only person I could talk to was my loving uncle, Papa’s younger brother, because he knew how much Papa loved me and protect me He lived in Northern California and made up an excuse to have me visit for a year.”

“You should have told me in the first place . . ”

“I didn’t have the courage to face this until my husband died last year. Please

forgive me my darling. I wanted to hug the moment. But Maurice warned me to go slow. He’s the one who found you and made all the arrangements. He’s my lawler and he arranged the trust. Maurice is one of my most trusted friens He pr ppromised me he’d takfo take care of you.”

Amelia dozed on the way ack to the hotel. Jacob drove in a stuoor. His whole worlde had been turned upsie down

When they reached the poruco of the hotel Jaco jumped up and raced around the car to open her door. Hesramws for help when her slump on the seat. Hee oxygen tubes had fallen out. She was not breathing. “Call 911, somebody, pleas!” He rembered the morphine she took at the musum a and hated himslelf for not stopping her, Had Maurice planned this part of the drama too?

He reached over to touch her cheek, drowning in a flood of confusrion, regret and sorrow.

Ameleia opened one mischef eye, making Jacon jolt and bang his head on the backseat doorjam.

“Tomorrow, my dear Jacob, we’re going to the Lincoln Park Zoo,” she said. “I want to see if the zebras are still there.”

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Copyright © 2015 Karl Schoenberger

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