"So Jules, do you want another glass of wine? I'm ready for a refill. Are you ready for a refill too?"
"Sure, Shell, why not. I deserve to get a little buzz tonight, to try to blunt a little of this, this emptiness that has wrapped itself around me. Pour away."
"Right away. You know, I wish there was something I could do, something I could say, but like I told you, I'm not really any good at this sort of thing. When my Dad died, I was just a ball of tears and confusion, even though I was like, 21 or 22. I didn't know what to say to my Mom or to anybody. I was just speechless, just incapable of forming sentences at all."
"Well, I appreciate the company. You don't have to say anything, and I really don't know what anyone could say. I wouldn't know what to say. I mean, I'm sorry and that sort of thing just seems so lame in situations like this. Of course, you're sorry. Everyone's sorry. We're all sorry. This is one freaking sorry life that we are all caught in, and for all of the puppies, and sunshine, and happy thoughts, it always ends badly -- it always ends, which is bad enough for anyone."
"I've always tried to be an optimist, like my Mom, but it comes very hard for me, Jules. I always try to see the bright side, but there is always my paranoia, my fears, my worries, that overtake me. My Dad wasn't an optimist at all. I used to wonder how he and Mom fell in love, and were together for so long, when their personalities were so different. Maybe that's why, because they were so different, you know, opposites attract and all that. I dunno."
"Oh, I guess there's some truth to that in some relationships. That wasn't the way it was with Jake and me, though; I mean, we were alike in lots of ways, liked a lot of the same music, both loved writing, we loved a good joke and laughing. And oh, he was so smart. It was one of the first things that attracted me to him: what a smart man, and funny, and he knew so much about so many different things. And he was always happy to teach me about things, and he never talked down to me, he always made things so I could understand. I used to listen to him for hours. And that voice. Oh God I could listen to that voice, he could read me the back of a cereal box, and it was magnificent. I got chills up and down from that voice. I really will miss that voice. I will miss that man. I adored that man. Like no other, I adored that man."
"So, um, Jules, how did you, . . . how did you find out, anyway?"
"His oldest daughter called me. That had been the plan all along. She knew how to get in touch with me if anything happened. And so she did. She's a great kid. He used to talk about how his daughters represented his very best work. And they are, all three, pretty remarkable girls, women, I mean. He was very proud of them; they were the center of his world in so many ways. And so she told me that he died in his sleep. Just went to bed like usual, and never woke up. So much for his nightmares about dying a violent death. He died on his pillow. He was right about so many things, and yet wrong about so many things."
"His daughters, how are they holding up, then? This has got to leave a big void for them. I know it did for me when my Dad died. It was like someone had just shot a giant hole through me, just taken a big chunk right out of me. It lasted a long time."
"Well, they seem to be doing okay, but I know it hit them hard; I could tell from his oldest's voice -- cracking as she talked to me -- which is what I would expect. I mean, I call them young women, but they're young, and this is a major part of their world that is suddenly gone. I think they'll be okay. He raised them to be pretty strong, and they have each other too."
"Listen, Jules, you want to take a rest for a while? I mean, you could just stretch out on the sofa, and I can answer the phone and all. You probably should get a little rest, don't you think?"
"I guess a little rest would probably be a good idea. I still need to make flight reservations to go out there, but I can do that later. I don't know how much I can really rest right now, but I suppose I should try. I just keep hearing Jake in my ears. I wish I could make out what he is saying, but I can't. I just keep hearing him. The voice. My God, he's gone. He's really gone."
"Here, honey, just stretch out and close your eyes for a while. I'll be right here if you need me."
[to be continued]
January 23, 2009.
Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.