Chapter Sixteen

Chris didn’t think Carly would know what should or could be done about Kimberly any better than he did, but he missed not having her to bounce ideas off of. All day long, as he showered, ate, drove downtown for a haircut and some much needed new jeans, surfed the internet reading obituaries and local news, all he could think about was Kimberly and her tentative future. He even watched the National Weather Channel for an hour looking for anything that looked ominous or potentially life threatening in the forecasts. Nothing looked particularly nasty, but the forecasts didn’t span beyond a week and he was fairly confident Kimberly had longer than that.

Although he could think of nothing but Kimberly and her dilemma, none of his thoughts came to any conclusions. He still had no idea how to proceed, how to convince her that she was in danger. And even if he did convince the dreamland Kimberly enough to hand over her phone number to him, he would still have to re-convince the conscious Kimberly. And even then what would he accomplish? Scaring her. Making her life miserable, or what’s left of her life. And if he couldn’t stop her impending death, as he still felt was most likely the case, why should he make what little time she had left a living nightmare?

As midnight approached, he heard the truck back into his driveway outside and start unloading his newspapers for the night’s deliveries. Chris closed out the Internet service he had been sitting idly in front of, watching and hoping that Carly might sign on before he had to go to work, and went to make some dinner before beginning his routes.

Throughout the day he had been thinking about Benjamin and the tornado and what that meant to Kimberly. It meant anything was possible. It meant what he wanted to do was probably impossible. Everywhere he looked he saw potential death. He realized that every day, every person faces death a hundred times over in their daily routines. Every street one crosses risks someone stepping on an accelerator instead of a brake. One risks slipping in the shower and banging his head on the hard ceramic tub. We trust electricity to be properly wired and insulated every time we flip on a switch or plug in an appliance. There are robberies and muggings and carjackings going on every day throughout the country, common everyday people doing routine everyday things suddenly becoming victims of random crimes. There are drunk drivers, strung out drug users, serial killers. Add to that Mother Nature with her tornados, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, lightning…the list is endless.

As he pulled out his tator tots from the oven to flip them over, he imagined the gas line in the oven exploding in his face. As he sunk his teeth into the hamburger he had bought at the grocery store, he thought of salmonella. As he swallowed, he imagined choking to death on food not thoroughly chewed. Reading the obituaries on a daily basis for the last few months, he had become quite aware of the countless ways one can meet with an untimely demise. By the time he had his papers loaded into his van and started out into the night to deliver them, he had almost convinced himself to abandon any hope of saving Kimberly.


He knew, despite the overwhelming odds against it, he still had to try.

As Chris drove through the night shoving the newspapers into the tubes, he kept returning to the same conclusion. He had to convince Kimberly to give him her phone number. He had to talk to her. He had no idea what he would say, but he had to make contact.

The night was slowly beginning to give way to the light. It was 6:15 a.m. and Chris was in his final neighborhood before turning towards home to go to bed and meet Kimberly again. He had pretty much decided not to push things too much this morning in his dream. He might make a stab at getting her phone number, but he knew that first he would have to win her trust. He still had time. She hadn’t been fading yet. No sense in scaring her too early, giving her time to lower her guard after a few days of being alert and nothing happening. He also still wanted to talk to Carly and knew he wouldn’t be able to do that until after his next journey up the hill.

Chris left St. Charles Place and turned down Baltic Avenue, the second to last street of his route. Boardwalk Avenue was the last street for the night. All the streets winding through this neighborhood were named after the Monopoly game board. It was a quiet, pleasant area, in Eagan, the same city he lived in himself, a suburb just south of St. Paul. In this particular part of town, most of the houses were split-level, with two- and three-car garages. All summer long, young kids played soccer and baseball in the middle of the streets. Parents sat on porch steps drinking tea and lemonade, talking to neighbors, keeping an eye on their kids in the streets and neighboring yards. Every morning, even more so now that winter had passed and spring was in full bloom, as Chris finished his night’s work in this area, joggers began their workouts. He generally hit this area at about the same time every morning and some of the more dedicated joggers in their morning ritual would recognize Chris as he drove up to the mailboxes to insert the newspapers and wave. Chris always managed a smile and wave back in return.

Ten stops left. On Boardwalk Avenue, one customer had a wheelchair ramp leading up the front steps of the house. They had made the request that their newspaper be delivered to the front door of the house, bagged and hung on the doorknob of the door at the top of the ramp so that the wheelchair-bound resident wouldn’t have to roll all the way out to the mailbox next to the street each morning to retrieve the paper.

Chris pulled his van up to the curb and parked, grabbed a paper from the passenger seat, slipped it into a plastic bag and exited the van. The sun was just beginning to peak over the horizon. Birds were busily chirping. The day promised to be a beautiful spring day, though Chris rarely spent anytime outside beyond his job anymore. The grass was turning its suburban green, dew moistening the toes of his shoes as he walked through the yard towards the ramp leading to the front door. The crisp, clean morning air filled his lungs. A night’s work moments from being done. His favorite time of day.

He wasn’t looking forward to going to sleep but couldn’t suppress the smile that a morning like this effortlessly inspires. A beautiful day can instill hope to hopeless situations. He thought about finally being able to talk to Carly again after a long weekend. He missed her on the weekends. He looked forward to being able to hear what she thought of his newest mission, to try to save Kimberly despite the conclusions that he and Carly had come to in their many discussions about the subject.

Suddenly thinking of Carly again gave Chris an idea. Maybe she could help in his new mission. Maybe she could make the initial call to the conscious Kimberly. Maybe Kimberly would be more willing to believe, or at least listen, if she was aware that someone else already believed him. He knew he had to be the one to ultimately spell out what the danger was, to be the messenger of the ominous news. He had no intention of passing on that burdensome and sordid task to Carly. But maybe Carly could break the ice, prepare Kimberly for the fact that he had some urgent, important, life and death information for her. That she, Carly, believed what he had to tell her about and that she believed Kimberly should keep an open mind to what he had to say, no matter how absurd or unbelievable it sounds at first.

The news was going to scare Kimberly, Chris had conceded. There was no way to help her without scaring her. And she should be scared. He just hoped she was strong enough to keep a level head after hearing, and believing, the news he had to offer. He hoped she wouldn’t hold the news against him and understand that he was just trying to help, not turn her life upside down, which he was probably going to unavoidably do anyway.

Of course, first he had to get her phone number out of the dreamland Kimberly. Then, if this was to be his new plan, he had to talk to Carly and see if she was willing to help. Carly has her own life, her own problems. Talking things through to help another out with their problems and dilemmas is one thing. Getting involved, diving in where the waters are over your head, where little is understood, taking a stand on something that you know is not going to be readily believed by anyone else, this was something else altogether.

But he and Carly had become very close. Though they had still never actually met face to face, they had talked on the phone several times and over the Internet more times than he could count. They had shared secrets with each other that they had shared with no one else. They knew each other better than their own families knew them. He thought she would help. He thought she would be pleased to help. He knew she would want to help in any way she could, as Chris would certainly do for her anything she ever asked of him. They were good friends, the best of friends, despite never having been together in the same room and only actually knowing each other for a handful of weeks. A different time and a different place, they openly admitted and agreed that they might have been more than good friends, but that hadn’t been their ‘fate,’ they had jointly concluded. And they were content to have what they had, a solid friendship, someone to trust and confide in. Someone to believe in each other.

Chris looped the hole in the top of the bagged newspaper over the door handle at the top of the ramp and turned back down the ramp towards his van. The beautiful morning, the crisp fresh air, his new plan, looking forward to talking to his only true friend, Chris felt hope.

As he stepped out into the street, rounding the front of his van, he caught sight of a jogger nearing on the far side of the street still a few houses away. He rarely initiated the first wave to the local joggers, but he was feeling pretty good this morning. He began to raise his arm to wave to the oncoming jogger as he jumped into the van, but froze with his arm half way up still standing in the street beside the driver’s door.

He noticed the long dark hair swinging back and forth with the jogger’s long strides. She was tall, young, very shapely and pretty…and very familiar looking. She was now approaching the house across the street, Chris still standing with his arm half raised, mouth half open, staring at her in disbelief. She saw him standing there motionless, watching her, and for an instant their eyes locked. She slowed her pace a moment, smiled a little uneasily, waved, and then picked her pace back up and moved on by.

Still frozen in place, unable to move, unable to lower his arm, unable to think, Chris stood and watched as Kimberly rounded onto Baltic Avenue and then out of sight in the direction that he had come from.

* * * * *

Chapter Seventeen


Front Desk

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As Fate Would Have It

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty-One
Chapter Twenty-Two
Chapter Twenty-Three
Chapter Tweny-Four
Chapter Twenty-Five
Chapter Twenty-Six
Chapter Twenty-Seven
Chapter Twenty-Eight
Chapter Twenty-Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty-One
Chapter Thirty-Two
Chapter Thirty-Three
Chapter Thirty-Four
Chapter Thirty-Five
Chapter Thirty-Six
Chapter Thirty-Seven