Chapter Fifteen

The next morning (Tuesday, Aug. 26th-23 days until d-day) after Katelynn and I had shared in the cooking and then feasting of an absurdly large breakfast, we cleared the table and washed the dishes together. Though she and I both appeared rested, energetic and in great spirits this morning, as well as famished, we now apparently had two subjects we were going to ignore as long as we dared.

The first subject was of course, Dr. James, Mr. Crawley, Mrs. Ikatsu, Benny, Harry and anything related to foretelling death. The plans were set, the worried parents awaited their daughter's arrival, the physical and various tests had been scheduled. No need to discuss any of this business until she returned for her physical. Lord knows her parents are going to certainly want to talk about it every evening after Faith is put to bed. No need to talk about it now.

The second subject, one that had not been in anyone's plans, was what had happened yesterday afternoon and then through the evening and the entire night. Fact was, there was no way in hell either one of us should feel as energetic as we did after watching the sunrise together before finally napping for a couple of hours until our growling, voracious stomachs had wakened us for breakfast. But I felt as strong and ready to take on the world if need be as I ever had.

Katelynn, too, was smiling as though 23 days was a lifetime away, no different than the 40 plus more years I was hoping to last. We both knew that she was still going to her folks' farm later that day. We both knew that we would see each other again when she returned for the physical and then most likely one more time when she returns to check in at the hospital. We both understood that there was still a good chance, in fact a better chance than not if my success record was thrown into the equation, that she would be packing up and moving on from this life to whatever awaits in the afterworld in just a matter of a few weeks. I knew that I had no intentions of hanging around in this hemisphere as soon as September 19th rolled around no matter what happened on the 18th. And of course, we were both very much aware that we were in no shape mentally, that it was absolutely without a doubt the worst timing in the world right then to even think about getting anything romantic started because the odds of it ending in heartbreak were off the charts.

Yet with all that said, all that knowledge, common sense and wisdom between us readily available should we decide to retrieve it, those particular files or voices in our brains had remained closed or silent, at least throughout the night. For we also both knew that yesterday afternoon, evening and night was the perfect culmination to a wonderful day that had now spanned from one breakfast to another breakfast during a time when there may not be too many more breakfasts left for one of the parties partaking in the making of the perfect day. Death had been put on hold. Fate was ignored. God had business elsewhere. From the timid smiles behind the omelets, to the giggles while shoulders were pressed snuggly together on the carpeted floor doing a crossword puzzle and playing games; to the green park and the playful, laughing children; to the romantic summer afternoon walk, the looks into each others' eyes growing more and more frequent, more bold, more revealing; to the butterflies traveling in rampant swarms through our stomachs; what happened next only made all the rest of those simple pleasures the day had delivered us after returning from the hospital seem all the more special and unique. Every moment permanently engrained in a memory to be kept fresh for the rest of our days, no matter how many or few they may number. We allowed ourselves, for one night, to drown in a passion that each of us possessed but had been keeping locked up and tucked away for different reasons for many years gathering dust while we waited perhaps for old memories and heartbreaks to fade away. We both knew that this particular variety of passion would once again need to be held in check and locked up, pretty much as soon as breakfast was over. It didn't need to be discussed. We both knew that we were each aware of what had happened and why, and that it needed to be left where it was, for what it was.

If for no other reason, our mutual understanding of this was obvious in our mutual willingness not to bring it up and analyze it. We didn't pretend it didn't happen. Our glowing faces would have betrayed that lie to even a stranger. But at least for now, at least for the next twenty-three or four days, this is neither a subject that will be brought up between us, nor an experience that will be repeated. We each know this and accept it as we know we must. Yet it is a memory that each of us will treasure for the rest of this life and hopefully carry with us even into the next if that is at all possible.

After we had cleaned up the last crumb of evidence that we had just eaten a breakfast fit for six, ignoring the pair of numbers at the front of my mind, keeping them to a dull roar as best I could, we playfully dried our hands on each other's shirts and then joined our dried, dishwater pruned hands and faced one another, our eyes no longer meeting under the guise of bashfulness. Without the use of words but instead through a method of communication used only by lovers who have genuinely experienced what we shared over the past twenty-four hours, we consummated a silently made, yet mutually understood vow between us with a kiss born of the previous day's passion. However, it bore the signature of a last kiss, a few salty tears spilling back into the Sea of Passion as the tide must inevitably recede, at least for now, pulling our found spirits apart again. We knew it could be no other way, as our final passionate kiss emphasized our only least for now.

* * * * *

It was just after nine in the morning as her slightly trembling lips pulled away from mine and we both silently acknowledged the possibility that it might also be our final kiss. As she took a step back, the seemingly unconditional bliss that had appeared in both our glowing faces only moments ago, faded away just as quickly as did the welcome warmth her body had delivered to mine while pressed against me. The unconditional bliss had remembered a condition. Reality.

As wonderful a world as it had been that we had lived in for the past twenty-four hours, it hadn't been the Real World. As much as we both wanted to tell the Real World to take its business elsewhere, that we had found a better world to live in, a better life to live; as much as we wanted to just pack up the kinfolk and get the hell out of Dodge, we knew the Real World would find us.

Katelynn looked down at the kitchen floor between us as though it were the Grand Canyon. A sadness for what might have been mixed with a helplessness towards what may come to be, had replaced the shine in her eyes with a look not all that dissimilar to resignation.

"Thank you," she said, still looking into the abyss beyond the floor. "You have no idea how much yesterday meant to me. I'm just sorry..."

She choked on her words, unable, or unwilling to finish the sentence. Again, the tears. Again, I step towards her to hold her, to comfort her, to protect and to love her...but she held up both hands before I finished the first step and raised her head to face me.

"No," she said. Her eyes met mine and with a moment of effort to establish control from somewhere within, she managed to shut the doorway on the tears. "Any more will transform the love to torture." She dropped her hands, but not her eyes which were now pleading, "Oh, John, I just want this to be over with, whatever happens. I just want it over."

"Maybe it will be over sooner than you think," I said, wondering who in fact I was trying to convince. "Dr. James might very well discover something when you return next Tuesday for the tests. And even if he doesn't, I still can't accept your presumed fate as fact. And besides," I added, "who's to say that Dr. Getz might not still be alive if he had been at the hospital when he had his heart attack instead of in his bathroom? Who's to say Dr. James couldn't have prolonged Mr. Crawley's life a day or two had he opened the envelope early and been ready? Your envelope has already been opened."

This last new thought, trying to induce Reason and Logic, the gods of anything resembling a religion in my life to that point, was spilling into my head almost simultaneously with its escape past my lips. I had already convinced myself. I was hoping Katelynn would be likewise convinced in a moment. "We are going to be ready. You are not dying like Mr. Crawley was and you don't have a weak heart like Dr. Getz did. You are young and strong. There is no reason for you to die. Dr. James and a full medical staff will be ready for anything that comes along on the eighteenth. I will be there with you, too, Katelynn. We will get you through this. We will be ready."

Okay, so it hadn't been our final kiss after all. This time it was Katelynn that ventured to cross the Grand Canyon but she met no resistance from my side of the gorge.

"You better be right," she said, a far too short and yet, longer-than-probably-should-have-been moment later, retreating once again to her side of the canyon after our second final kiss. Though said with a sarcastic tone and a waggle of the finger in my direction, her voice softened dramatically and her hand moved to her heart as she said, "I believe in you, John. I..."

Now I was the one that held my hand up stopping her even though she wasn't attempting to move into my territory. Actually, I held up my hand to stop her because she was getting far too dangerously close to my territory. If I had let her finish what she was going to say, it might have changed everything. I knew she felt it. She knew I knew it. She knew I felt the same way about her. I had let her know that in every way possible with the exception of words over the last twenty-four hours. And she had replied many times over in the same wordless fashions. It was hard enough to let her go off to the farm, even though I knew that was the best thing for her. It was hard enough knowing how I felt, how she felt, even if she didn't buy the farm, I was planning on probably high-tailing it as fast and far away and as I possibly could the moment the victor, Katelynn or Fate, was officially announced. More precisely, I did plan on meeting with Dr. James on the morning of the 19th, long enough to set up a meeting with him later in the week. By the time he was missing me at that meeting, I was hoping to be permanently out of his microscope's range. But to hear Katelynn, or even myself, voice out loud this mutual sentiment that we were both only too aware of already, to hear those three words spoken with the passion that spawned the emotion itself--that would change everything.

"Faith and your parents will be here in an hour," I said, hoping she would understand. "Is there anything I can do to help you get ready to go?"

"You've already done more than I could have ever asked of you, John. Thank you so much." This time a gentle smile did spread across her face, reminding me of the morning sun rising on a field, touching each flower with its nurturing warmth as its light spreads out to embrace all beneath its reign. Her smile spilled that same warmth into me, spreading over my skin, sinking in through my pores, entering my blood system and warming my heart.

Three words emerged from the warmth enveloping my heart that her smile had caused and began to work their way towards my lips but I managed to swallow them down once again before they could make it up past my Adam's apple.

"Call me when you get back," I said instead. "I would like to meet you here instead of the hospital."

"I can do better than that," she replied, her warm smile now approaching high noon. "I'll call you on the way so you will already be here waiting for me when I get back."

* * * * *

I left before Katelynn's family arrived to pick her up. No need to confuse them further with my presence. Despite reality's crashing our brief visit to Eden, there was still an inappropriate fresh glow in our faces that would not escape the scrutiny of already very concerned parents. Plus, I still wasn't comfortable with my role in all this as the bearer of bad news. And since the news I had to bear in this case happened to be the death of their daughter, I guess that made me kind of like a close relative to the Grim Reaper. Katelynn's parents had enough to worry about. They didn't need to add to that the fact that their daughter had fallen for a second cousin of Mr. Reaper.

So Katelynn went off to the farm to try to cram a lifetime of fun and memories with her daughter into a week and I went home to wait. After about a half an hour of sitting in my garage waiting for the week to go by, I suddenly remembered I had something else to wait for first that was only little more than a day away...and I still needed to get a dessert.

Being said possessor of reclusive tendencies for the past fourteen years, I was not particularly looking forward to my trip out to Minnetonka, a fairly wealthy community built around about a thousand of Minnesota's ten thousand lakes. The west side suburb of Minneapolis wasn't too far from my south side, more preppy suburb, about forty minutes, but I had absolutely no idea what I was going to find when I got to 14 Crimson Lane. I had actually planned on taking a slow ride on my bike by the address a time or two after returning from the hospital and get a peak at it, but of course, I didn't get the chance. Then when I did leave Katelynn's home the next morning, 14 Crimson Lane had been the furthest thing from my mind.

Once back home, while settled into my thinking chair, smoking one of my thinking sticks, thinking about things I shouldn't have been thinking about, was when the memory of 6pm somehow snuck in and chased away the futile thoughts. Suddenly a throng of new concerns and questions flooded through from wherever they originate, giving cause for lighting-up a worry stick immediately after snubbing out the thinking stick.

...4 days...6pm...14 crimson lane minnetonka...tell no one john...bring a dessert...see you then...

I remembered every word just as though it had been spoken aloud to me only moments ago. Four days. That was tomorrow. It was obviously an invitation to a dinner party, but how big was the party and more importantly, why was Harry inviting me? I didn't think this was going to be Harry's home. Harry reeked southern from head to toe. So had Benny, and he would still be in the hospital. And there was the tell no one john part, the part I didn't want to think about.

There was no way that I could think of to figure out what was going to happen before it happened, so I decided to ignore the new onslaught of debate topics and try to concentrate on my instructed contribution to the upcoming dinner party and produce a dessert. I didn't know if it was formal or casual, if I was expected to bake something or just go out and buy something. I am terrible at this kind of stuff under the best circumstances, which these were not. I compromised. I went out and bought twenty packages of Grandma's soft chocolate chip cookies at the Kwik Trip, cleaning out their supply and giving Jill, who was still proudly wearing her trainee title on her name tag, one more reason to think that I wasn't playing with a full deck. I opened up all the packages, two cookies per, and fanned them around and about on my largest platter. Next I drew several sheets of aluminum foil and wrapped cookies and platter to maintain Grandma's freshness. Voila. Dessert is ready...and with twenty-nine hours to spare.

* * * * *

Chapter Sixteen


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The Master Plan

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
Chapter Thirty-Eight
Chapter Thirty-Nine