When young social worker Rachel Thomas accepts her first “real” job at Salter’s Point Regional in Washington State, she expects to be working around crazy people. After all, the hospital was once a notorious insane asylum.
Imagine her surprise when she realizes that many of the crazies at Salter’s Point are the professional misfits who are supposed to be caring for the patients. It seems they are running the hospital and creating mayhem of their own. A manic attorney, a sex-crazed psychiatrist, and a drunk therapist are a few of the many professionals with blurred lines of insanity.
Rachel tries desperately to fit in while still caring for her patients. Despite feeling like “a fly in the wrong soup,” she succeeds in doing her job. Until tragedy strikes and turns her world upside down.
Inspired by true events in a psychiatric hospital in the 1980s. The author, Anita Dixon Thomas,has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for thirty-seven years.
A sequel to the book, She Was A Fly In The Wrong Soup, Strange Occurrences is a hilarious but dark mystery novel that promises to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Salter’s Point Regional keeps attracting crazy and peculiar professionals to its ranks. It’s been three years since the tragic fire, and Rachel Thomas discovers Peepers hanging out at Saint Mary’s Cemetery. Thrilled the big cat is still alive, she scoops him up and takes him home.
And for a while, all is well until a serial killer emerges, wreaking havoc on the hospital. Rachel accidentally learns the killer’s identity, which turns out to be someone she knows. Scared to death, Rachel wonders what to do next. When the killer strikes again, Rachel knows she has to do something, but will she risk everything and reveal the killer’s identity?
This book will not only entertain you, but give you an in-depth look at the wild and crazy, and sometimes dark side of the mental health profession.
Available in both paperback and hardback on my website at https://koolstorytellerbooks.com, and Barnes and Noble Online Bookstore. Kindle version and paperback also available on Amazon.com.
Note: If you buy the book on my website, you will receive $2 off , your book signed by the author and a complimentary bookmark! Don’t miss out!
Last week, the world lost a beloved African American movie star and icon. Cicely Tyson’s meteoric career spanned over sixty decades. She was a woman who chose her roles wisely, and she always played strong, inspiring African American female characters—never compromising on the African American experience.
In an unlikely place, I met Cicely Tyson in a restroom at the Atlanta Civic Center one balmy, hot Saturday on June 28, 2003. Mayor Jackson’s family held his funeral there that morning. He died at the young age of sixty-five from a cardiac arrest a few days earlier—a shock to many worldwide.
He was Atlanta’s first African American mayor, and well-known dignitaries and the general public crammed into the civic center to celebrate his legacy that day. Everybody was there, then Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Congressman John Lewis, Former Mayor Andrew Young, Civil Rights Leader, Coretta Scott King, Reverend Joseph Lowery, and Former President Bill Clinton, to name a few.
Dressed in a sleeveless flowing black dress with the hem an inch above the knee with no stockings, too hot to wear them, I was glad I had on my comfortable black open-toed shoes. The walk from my car to the civic center entrance was hot and long. The rhythmic humming of crickets and cicadas in the green foliage along the sidewalk electrified the humid air. Cars whizzed by me, honking their horns as I strutted down Ralph McGill Avenue. Sweat beaded on my forehead and the black cat-framed sunglasses I sported slid down the bridge of my nose. I reached up and pushed them in place, still maintaining my mysterious persona. The best part about living in a sunny state, one can always wear a fabulous pair of shades.
I sighed with relief when I finally reached the building entrance and walked inside an air-conditioned lobby. I stood under a vent to cool off, and the cold air felt good against my face. As I lingered there, I checked out the vast crowd. My first time at the civic center, I struggled with how to get to the main auditorium, searching for signs in the area to guide me. I saw men in black suits and women with big floppy black hats with elegant matching dresses, or pantsuits jammed up against each other in the lobby.
I wiggled my way through and saw a sign scripted with the word auditorium. I hurried in that direction and saw two ushers standing across from each other at the doubled doors. They waved me through, and I made my way down the aisle. The auditorium had red velvet seating, which surprised me. I settled in a seat in the tenth row at the end, a perfect spot so I could leave early to beat the funeral traffic.
I crossed my legs, set my black purse on my lap, and checked out the mourners as they floated past me in the aisle. They sat in the row in front of me, and the mayor’s family, along with several dignitaries, sat in a roped off section several rows up ahead. The mayor’s gold casket decorated with white chrysanthemums looked beautiful as it sat in front of a shiny black piano. Light from the ceiling reflected off the casket giving it a multi-colored glow. The rise and fall of people conversating around me complimented the soft, melodic gospel music playing in the background, and after everyone took their seats, the doubled doors finally closed. Singing, speeches, and poems filled the auditorium, moving the crowd occasionally to their feet. The going home celebration for Atlanta’s first African American mayor proved to be quite a send-off. After President Clinton finished his speech, I got up and hightailed it to the restroom.
When I entered the bathroom, I noticed an elegant older woman with smooth brown skin adjusting her hat in the mirror. She and I were about the same height, five foot and three inches tall, and she had the most expressive dark brown eyes I have ever seen. We said our hello’s as I parked myself in front of the mirror opposite of her. She applied her red lipstick while I reached in my purse for mine.
She looked familiar to me, and I wondered where I had seen her before. I didn’t want to embarrass myself by asking, so I applied my red lipstick, rolling my lips, as I snuck a peek at the elegant woman in the mirror, carefully checking her out. Finally, we made eye contact, and her expressive eyes seemed to have a hint of laughter. “What brand of lipstick are you wearing?” she asked in a silvery, distinct voice.
“Fashion Fair. Red is my favorite,” I replied.
“Ah, Fashion Fair,” she smiled, showing entirely white, straight teeth. “I love a good red lipstick. Tell me, what shade of red is that? It’s pretty.”
“Red Wine. I wear it all of the time.”
“Well, it’s looks nice on you.”
I felt myself blushing. “Thank you,” I grinned.
“I wear Fashion Fair occasionally. Next time I order, I’ll remember to get some of that red wine lipstick.” The woman smoothed out her dress, grabbed her black sequined purse, and turned in my direction. She looked so familiar to me, and I looked away to keep from staring so hard.
“Well, I must go,” she chuckled. “I don’t want to miss Reverend Joseph Lowery. That man can give some entertaining speeches sometimes.”
“Yes, I heard,” I smiled. “Well, it was nice talking to you.”
“My pleasure.” Then she was gone. I knew I’d seen the lady somewhere before, and I thought about our conversation as I returned to my seat. By the time Reverend Joseph Lowery finished his entertaining speech, it finally hit me. That was Cicely Tyson! Oh, my goodness! I just had a conversation about red lipstick with Cicely Tyson! How could I not have known whoshe was when I was talking with her?Noone would ever believe me!
I went home that day, called my sister, and told her about my brief meeting with the great Cicely Tyson. I never forgot that day—my brief encounter with her has stayed with me for my entire life. We were two women sharing a moment, talking about red lipstick. How funny. I would’ve never guessed it in my wildest dreams.
I’ve shared this story over the years with my friends and family. Because of her death, it seemed appropriate to share it again. Her incredible, prolific talent and contributions to the big screen will endure in our hearts forever. Rest in Peace, Miss Tyson, and thank you again for the wonderful conversation we had in the bathroom that one hot summer day. Thank you for reading. Until next time!
Strange Occurrences, is a hilarious but dark mystery novel that promises to keep you on the edge of your seat. A sequel to the novel, She Was A Fly in The Wrong Soup, Salter’s Point Regional keeps attracting crazy and peculiar professionals to its ranks.
It’s been three years since the tragic fire, and Rachel Thomas discovers Peepers hanging out at Saint Mary’s Cemetery. Thrilled the big cat is still alive, she scoops him up and takes him home. For a while, all is well until a serial killer emerges, wreaking havoc on the hospital. Rachel accidentally learns the killer’s identity, which turns out to be someone she knows. Shocked and scared, Rachel wonders what to do. When the killer strikes again, Rachel has to do something, but will she risk her life and reveal the killer’s identity?
Once again, Anita Dixon Thomas gives the readers an in-depth look at the wild and wacky, and sometimes dark side of the mental health profession.
It was almost midnight and the moon loomed like a big orange pumpkin in the dark, clear sky. Curled on the hard-narrow bed in a fetal position with a blanket over her, Susan Cole gazed at the moon’s reflection through the octagonal window eight feet above her. Depending on how she moved her head, the unevenness of the safety glass stretched and squeezed the moon’s image, much like a carnival mirror. Susan was struck by the moon’s brilliance, gazing at it until she saw black spots. She squeezed her eyes shut, and when she opened them again, the black spots were gone. She detected footsteps coming down the hallway and suddenly halting at her door. Bob, the charge nurse, was making his final rounds for the night.
The door opened and a bright light shone in her face. Susan lifted her head and squinted into the flashlight’s beam, then pulled the blanket over her head. The door closed, and for a minute or two Susan listened as Bob walked down the hall. Once his footsteps faded, Susan sat up, wrapping her blanket around her, and stared at the light shining underneath the door. When the light finally went out, Susan knew Bob had settled in for the night at the nursing station.
Now safe to move about, Susan threw off her blanket and hopped out of bed. She stooped to the floor, reached under the bed, and pulled out a shopping bag. She set it on the bed carefully and opened it, trying hard not to rattle the crackling paper. In the bag, she kept three outfits along with a pair of Reebok tennis shoes. She took out her jeans and a black sweater and quickly dressed.
Happy to be rid of the dull tan pajamas she’d had to wear since arriving at the hospital two weeks ago, Susan lingered on the edge of the bed and slipped on her Reeboks, tying the strings into neat bows. Leaping to her feet, Susan tiptoed to the closet, opened the door, and took out her black coat and matching wool hat. She threw on her jacket, buttoning it to her chin. With her hat in her hand, Susan tiptoed back to the bed, sat on the edge, twisted her curly blond hair into a bun, and pulled her hat over her head.
Then she sat there staring at the door, twiddling her thumbs while she waited on Doctor George Benny. He was her knight in shining armor, her psychiatrist, and her new lover. He promised to whisk her away from this crazy, awful place she’d found herself in. He promised her a better life from the dreary world she had always known.
While she waited, Susan found herself reflecting on the events that brought her to Salter’s Point Regional Hospital. She didn’t know if she’d been born cursed, or if her perpetual bad luck was a result of her father abandoning her to be raised by a drug-addicted mother. On welfare and high on crack most days, her mother just didn’t seem to care about her, so Susan learned to fend for herself. She came to hate herself as much as her mother seemed to and acted out by sleeping with men and making superficial cuts on her wrists with a small switchblade. She never intended to seriously injure herself, the cutting just made herself feel better. She always treated the cuts and wrapped her arms with thick white gauze, and she wore shirts and sweaters with long sleeves to hide the damage. Except for the nurses and doctors at the psychiatric hospitals she often stayed in, Susan never told a soul about her terrible secret.
Eventually the cutting and sleeping around no longer soothed her, and she graduated to suicide attempts. She would take a bunch of pills and end up in a hospital getting her stomach pumped. Her intention was never to kill herself, she was just desperate for someone, anyone to care about her.
Hoping to leave her troubles behind her, Susan moved from California to Salter’s Point six months earlier, but things didn’t go as she’d planned. She couldn’t make enough money waitressing to pay her rent. She lost her apartment and found herself on the streets. Despondent, homeless and broke, Susan resorted to her old bad behavior. After overdosing on Tylenol, a man found her lying on the town sidewalk moaning in pain and he called 911. After spending time in a local hospital ICU, Susan’s doctor committed her to Salter’s Point Regional, her tenth commitment on record. Susan was saved, guaranteed free room and board for the duration of her stay.
It was at Salter’s Point Regional that Susan met Doctor George Benny. He was working the late shift when she was transferred in, and he assigned himself as her doctor. Susan immediately fell in love with him. When he spoke, she hung on his every word. The doctor’s marginal good looks and charming personality reminded Susan of her estranged father. Caught up in his seductive web, every day they would make love in the doctor’s office. Susan was ecstatic when George offered her a place to stay.
Together they planned Susan’s escape, and now, finally, the night had arrived. Susan was eager to begin her new life and leave the old one behind. So, with her hands clasped tight in her lap, Susan waited for the doctor. The shopping bag with her two additional outfits sat on the floor next to her feet. Susan stared at the door for some time, and when it opened, Doctor Benny entered the room. Susan’s eyes lit up, and she dove off the bed. She fell in his arms, almost knocking him over, and clung to his waist like an expectant child, gazing lovingly at him with bright blue eyes.
“Whoa,” he laughed, “slow down!”
“I thought you’d never get here!” Susan giggled like a schoolgirl. “I’ve been waiting all day!”
“I’m here now. I told you I would come.” George smiled. He was tall and slender with silver-gray hair and a mustache. George’s eyes were intense and sparkling blue. Years of smoking pipes every day left the doctor’s smile with mustard yellow teeth.
George embraced Susan and kissed her forehead, then released her and pointed to the bed. “Get your bag. We need to go. We don’t have much time.”
“What about my medication? I need my pills. They keep me calm.”
“Did Bob give you medication this evening?”
“Yes,” Susan said, snatching her shopping bag and following George to the door.
“No need to worry. I have plenty of medication at home.” He stopped for a moment and looked in both directions. Satisfied the coast was clear, he and Susan tiptoed toward the unit’s exit. When they passed the nursing station, Susan busted out laughing at Bob’s loud grizzly bear snore.
George became incensed. “Be quiet! You’re going to wake Bob up!”
As soon as those words left his lips, Bob’s snoring stopped. George and Susan held their breath as they stood frozen in place. Susan’s heart thumped hard in her chest as they watched Bob smack his lips and yawn. Seconds later, a soft snore rumbled from his lips, and a stream of clear liquid drooled from his mouth. Susan felt George squeeze her hand, causing her to cringe in agony. “Ouch! That hurts!”
“You almost got me in trouble,” George sneered.
“I didn’t mean to. Bob looks so funny sleeping there,” Susan whined as she poked her bottom lip out.
“Just be quiet, and let’s go!” George dragged her down the hall. Sweat dripped from his face. He fiddled with the key ring, dropping it, and it clanged on the floor. George moaned in exasperation and glanced down the hall to see if anyone was coming. “Shit, I just can’t get it together!”
Susan stooped over and picked up the key, handing it to George. “I think you need some of my medication. You’re a nervous wreck.” George cut his eyes at Susan, and she made a face. “Don’t look at me like that! I was only kidding!”
“If you say so,” George snapped as he unlocked the door. He hurled his slender body against the door, shoving it open. George grabbed Susan’s hand, and together they stepped out. After he closed the door, it automatically locked. The two lovers sprinted through the lobby and out the main entrance. The cold, crisp wind stung Susan’s face as they ran across the lit parking lot. They slowed down to a brisk walk as they made their way to George’s red Porsche.
While Susan waited for George as he fumbled with his keys to unlock and open her door, she looked back at the hospital. Dense white fog hung over the hospital, and its gloomy appearance reminded her of a haunted house. In the clock tower, a small light flickered on and off every three seconds, illuminating the clock’s sizable white face. The clock’s black hands crept to the numeral twelve, and Susan heard the clock chime twelve times.
Startled by the sound, bats that were hanging off the clock’s wooden ledge took off with their wings roaring like rushing water. They swooped back and forth over the clock tower. Once the chiming ended, the night creatures settled on the clock’s narrow ledge, lined up like big black crows on a picket fence. One by one, they flipped upside down with their naked bodies suspended in mid-air as if posing for a Halloween portrait. Susan shuddered, turning back around as George opened the car door. “It’s creepy around here,” she mumbled under her breath.
Susan slipped into the soft leather seat of George’s Porsche while he dashed around the car, opened the door, and slipped into the driver’s side. They snuggled together briefly, then George zoomed out of the parking lot with lightning speed, passing through the open the iron gate and down the road. Susan suddenly realized she hadn’t seen John, the security guard, in the lobby when she and George left the hospital.
“Honey, I didn’t see John when we left. Do you know where he might be tonight?”
“Who cares where he is? Be glad we didn’t run into him. Do you want me to go to jail?” George quipped as he stepped on the brake, slowing his vehicle down.
Susan withered in her seat. She hated when George snapped at her. “No, George, I was just asking. He’s usually around.”
George remained silent as he navigated down the sharp, curvy road that snaked through the town of Salter’s Point. Susan gazed out the window at the tall evergreen trees that lined each side of the street. Salter’s Point Regional sat on a cliff, and on the right side of the road was a deep, vast valley. Susan lurched up and strained her neck, trying to look down. All she saw was darkness, and a cold chill rippled through her spine. The whole scene was eerie, and it gave her the creeps.
Susan sighed heavily and sat back in her seat. She glanced at the clock on the dashboard and realized they’d been driving for fifteen minutes. Eager to see her new home, she cleared her throat. “Um, excuse me, George, do we have far to go?”
“Just another fifteen minutes,” he smiled.
“Cool, I can’t wait!” Susan laid her head on the headrest and gazed out the window, counting stars in the midnight sky. Fifteen minutes later, the car came to a stop and George announced, “We’re here.”
Susan straightened in her seat. George’s home took her by surprise. Instead of a mansion like she’d envisioned, his house was a modest white bungalow. It had two front windows with windowpanes painted black. Thick fescue grass grew in the front yard, and red roses crept along the white picket fence. A cobblestone sidewalk led up to the porch, with four steps going to the front door. The door was red with a white wicker chair on each side. Susan sighed with disappointment. Very cute!No mansion. Oh, well.
“What are you waiting for? Let’s go!” George said as he flipped the lock and opened the car door. He stepped out, opened the rear door and he grabbed Susan’s bag. George shut the door, and Susan was already out of the car. “I like your home,” she fibbed.
“Thank you,” George said as he reached over and pulled Susan to him. She, in turn, wrapped her arms around his waist. George lowered his head and planted a wet, passionate kiss on her thin lips. He pulled back and stared into her eyes. “Darling, welcome to your new home. I hope you’ll be comfortable here.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll be fine.” Her lips erupted into a childish grin. George opened the gate, and Susan followed him in. They walked up the steps and George unlocked the door,
twisting the knob and opening it. He flipped the light switch on the wall, and the ceiling light came on. Susan heard soft jazz playing in the background as she followed George inside. He shut the door and Susan looked around wide-eyed. “I hear music. Where is it coming from?”
“I’ve built-in speakers wired throughout my home so I can play music all over the house.”
“So cool.” Susan smiled taking in the ambiance of George’s home. In the living room, along the back wall sat a black leather couch. A few feet from the couch was a matching chair. Next to the chair, a CD Player with CDs stacked on each side sat on a cherry wood entertainment console and a large abstract oil painting with red, blue and orange colors hung over the console. Across the room, a huge stone fireplace with ash residue on the hearth sat between two front rectangle windows with white blinds. So, simple! Susan thought.
Doubled glass French doors separated the living room from the dining area. George opened the doors and stood on the side so Susan could go in. The dining room was simply decorated with an oak oval table and four chairs in black upholstery. On the wall hung another abstract painting with black and burgundy colors. The painting caught Susan’s attention. “George, I love this painting. The colors are so striking.”
“I collect abstract art. I find the art interesting,” he said.
George passed thru an archway leading into the kitchen. Susan followed him and was shocked by the kitchen’s small size. The black refrigerator and stove took up a lot space along the wall. On the other side of the kitchen, there was a black shiny sink, with granite counters. Black painted cabinets hovered over the counters. Susan wondered if black was George’s favorite color. Boy, he had so much of it. “George, is black your favorite color?”
“Black is a masculine color. I like decorating with it.”
“Oh, I definitely see that,” Susan replied. She followed George out of the kitchen, passing through the dining room and out the French doors. George turned left stepping into a short hallway with wood stairs. “Time to show you my room.”
He ran upstairs with Susan on his heels. George pointed to a small room as they walked down the short hallway. “This is one of the two bathrooms. The other one is in the master bedroom.”
“Oh,” Susan said taking note. At the end of the hall was another set of French doors. The doors opened into the master bedroom and when George opened them, there sat a king-sized bed with a black comforter. On the wood floor was a black fur rug and to the right was the bathroom. The walls were bare, except for the rectangle window on the far wall. George dropped Susan’s bag and closed the blinds. Susan plopped her behind on the bed and looked around. George walked over and gently pushed her back on the bed. He covered her face with sloppy, wet kisses and Susan wiggled and giggled with delight. Hopelessly excited, Susan knew she had arrived. Despite all the bad things that had happened in her life to this point, she could finally relax and live her happily ever after. Happy Sunday and Thank You for Reading!
Rachel didn’t get much sleep, so she called out sick to take time to get herself together. She wasn’t in any emotional shape to see patients, especially mentally ill ones. Rachel showered and threw on her red sweats. She went to the kitchen and made herself a cup of coffee. With her back against the counter, Rachel contemplated how to spend her day honoring Jamie. She wasn’t the least bit interested in sitting around moping and crying. Her desire was to do something worthwhile.
Antsy, with no ideas in mind at first, Rachel finished her coffee, grabbed her purse, and strutted out the door. She had no idea where she was headed, but she hopped in her Toyota and took off down the road. To her surprise, Rachel found herself turning on the street where Jamie lived, and she decided she would stop by to see if Peepers was there,
Rachel pulled up in front of Jamie’s townhouse and parked. She was surprised to see a green Oldsmobile sitting in the driveway, Rachel wondered who it belonged too. Maybe it’s one of Jamie’s family members,
Determined to find out, Rachel grabbed her purse and got out of the car. She stepped briskly to the door, and boldly rang the doorbell. Swift and heavy footsteps approached from the other side and abruptly stopped. The door swung open, and a man about five foot and seven inches tall stared back at her with deep-set ocean-blue eyes. He had blond hair, which was thick and lustrous, but greying around the temples, and his suntanned face was sharp and well-defined, giving the impression he had weathered many storms. He wore wrinkled black overalls with Nike tennis shoes.
“Can I help you?” he asked in a gruff voice.
“I’m sorry…I…I don’t mean to pry,” Rachel stuttered, terrified. “My name is Rachel Thomas. I’m a friend of Jamie’s, and I also worked with her at Salter’s Point Regional Hospital.”
The man’s face brightened a little. “I’m John Lee, Jamie’s husband.”
Rachel jerked her head back and bucked her eyes, floored. “Oh, glad to meet you. Jamie didn’t tell me she was married!”
“Yep, for ten long years.” For a minute, he seemed to blank out, staring into space as if he was reminiscing, living in another time. When Rachel cleared her throat, he came to his senses. John took a step back and opened the door wide.
“Would you like to come in? I’m packing some of Jamie’s things.”
“Love to,” Rachel said as she walked inside, and he closed the door behind her. She stood in the living room, inspecting the place. Clothes and shoes were sprawled everywhere on the couch and chairs. Cardboard boxes were scattered on the floor, some filled to the top with clothes and others half filled with Jamie’s shoes. John carefully folded Jamie’s sweaters and packed them in a box.
“I see you’re packing up Jamie’s clothes. Are you taking them somewhere?”
“I thought I’d take them to the women’s shelter in town. I certainly don’t have any use for them,” he gruffly answered.
“Sounds like a plan,” Rachel smiled, pleased Jamie’s clothing would be put to good use.
John stopped packing and walked swiftly toward the kitchen.
“Can I offer you anything? Coffee, juice, water? Anything?” Rachel took the liberty and followed him. The color drained from her face, unable to answer when she entered the kitchen. Cardboard boxes were everywhere, and Jamie’s dishes and pots were out on the counter and table. Rage pulsated through her veins, and her cheeks burned. Why is he packing everything up so soon? Jamie hasn’t been dead for a good forty-eight hours, and he’s already getting rid of her belongings! What’s the rush?
“I didn’t hear your answer,” John said, raising an eyebrow.
“I’m sorry,” Rachel replied. “I guess I was taken aback by all of the packing. Why the rush?” Oh, shit, I didn’t mean to say that. Oh, well.
“I realize this looks quick, but I don’t have a lot of time. I pastor a church in Colorado and I’m leaving on a mission trip next week. Although we were separated, Jamie considered me her family. It was her desire that if something happened to her, I would take care of things.”
“I know it’s early, but a shot of whiskey would be fine.”
John’s eyebrows went up, hesitating, and he cracked up laughing. “A shot of whiskey? So, you’re a whiskey drinker like my wife.”
“No, not really. I prefer wine, if you must know.” Rachel chuckled, batting her eyes.
“Then why the whiskey?”
Rachel shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe it’s my way of honoring Jamie somehow.”
“Perverse, but I love it!” John laughed. “Let’s see if I can find some for you.”
He went to the pantry, opened the door, and shoved some canned goods around. “I know Jamie must have some stashed away in here somewhere,” he muttered to himself. Rachel checked John out. She had to admit Jamie had good taste. Handsome, despite his rugged, weathered looks and short stature, John wasn’t her kind of guy. She preferred a taller man, much like the suave, mysterious Doctor Everett James.
“You’re in luck! Look what I found behind a big can of Crisco.” John held the bottle up so Rachel could see it.
“Great,” Rachel smiled as she pulled out a chair and sat at the table. “I just want a little bit. I’m not used to drinking whiskey.”
“At your service.” John went to the counter and twisted the cap open on the whiskey bottle. He found two shot glasses in the dish rack and poured the whiskey, filling both glasses to the rim. He brought the drinks to the table and sat, shoving one over to Rachel.
A box of photos caught his attention, and he pulled it in front of him. John grabbed the first picture he saw on the pile, that was all it took for his eyes to water. He clutched the solid wooden frame tight in his hand, reminiscing over a perfect moment in his past.
“This is Jamie and I when we first got married. The happiest memories hurt the most,” he said in a low voice as he managed to restrain the flood of tears from within.
“You say you guys were married ten years?”
“Yes. Jamie and I grew up together. We both were from a religious family, grew up Catholic. We talked about having our own church one day.” He handed Rachel the photograph, and she looked at it. Rachel marveled at how Jamie’s style had changed over the years, from dressing feminine to more manly. Thinner and looking happy, Jamie looked cute, holding her bouquet of flowers in her little white dress. She had a big smile on her face as she gazed into her husband’s eyes. John looked like a movie star in his double-breasted pinstriped suit. His hair was longer but still swept back away from his handsome face.
“You know, Jamie never talked about her marriage much. What happened between you two? If you don’t mind me asking.” The photograph reflected happier times, and they were such an attractive couple.
“Anne Cleveland happened,” John quipped in a sour tone, frowning. He almost looked wolfish as he briefly recalled his wife’s betrayal. “Jamie met her at an aerobics class, and the rest is history. It took me a while to get over it,” he said in a low, cracking voice.
“I bet.” Rachel could see it was painful for John to talk about it and decided not to press him for more details, but John apparently needed to talk.
“Every time I called her and learned she was still with Anne it would break my heart. I knew I couldn’t live anywhere near the two of them. My ego couldn’t take it.”
“So, you and Jamie never divorced?”
“No, we never did.”
“Well, if it’s any consolation, Jamie and Anne broke up a month ago.”
John’s eyes widened as he fell back in his chair. “Really? What happened?”
“Anne will tell you they broke up because of her drinking, but the real story is, she fell in love with a man who happens to be my ex,” Rachel answered with sourness in her voice.
“Damn!” John shook his head in disbelief.
“Damn is right,” Rachel said, half smiling.
John looked down for a moment at his glass of whiskey. He brought the alcohol to his lips and threw his head back. The bitter sensation of the liquor made his eyes water. John coughed, blowing out his cheeks as he swallowed, and grunted. “Well, I guess we both got burned!” He looked over at Rachel and noticed she hadn’t touched her glass. “What are you waiting for? Drink up! It’s in Jamie’s honor.”
“I know.” Rachel sighed, taking a deep breath. She laid John’s wedding photo back in the box and picked up her glass. Rachel took one sip, almost spitting the bitter-tasting liquor straight out of her mouth. She managed to hold it in, getting it down, screwing up her face as she swallowed. Rachel coughed repeatedly. “Damn, that’s nasty!” she said in a dry, hoarse voice.
John’s eyes gleamed with amusement as his mouth curved into a smile. “You weren’t kidding. Whiskey is definitely not your drink.”
“No, it’s not.” Rachel looked John dead in the face, scrutinizing him. “I don’t believe I ever witnessed a pastor drinking alcohol.” Rachel wanted him to know she disapproved of his behavior.
“They generally don’t, but this one does,” he smirked, winking at her. “Besides, I’ve got a lot on my mind.”
“Well, alcohol isn’t the solution.”
“I’m well aware.” John’s smile slipped into a questioning frown. “So, is there a reason why you stopped by? You knew Jamie is no longer here.”
Rachel’s eyes watered. “I know. I guess I wanted to see if she was really gone, besides I was hoping Peepers would be here.”
“Peepers and Jamie are gone, I’m afraid.” His face darkening a little. They sat quietly for a while each soul a million miles away stuck in their own thoughts. Rachel flinched when John tapped his fingers hard on the table.
“Where are you with the funeral arrangements?” she asked.
“I’m almost done with the arrangements. Jamie is Catholic, so her funeral will be at Saint Mary’s Church.” A muscle in John’s jaw twitched as he gazed down at the table misty-eyed.
Recognizing his vulnerability, Rachel felt empathy for the pastor. “Do you need any additional help with the planning? I don’t mind helping,” she softly offered.
“I’m fine. Jamie and I have talked about this many times. She has a will. I’m following her wishes.”
“When is the funeral?”
Rachel stood on her feet. “Okay. If you need anything, please let me know.”
“You’re so kind. Thank you,” John smiled as he stood up. He escorted Rachel out of the kitchen and into the living room. Rachel walked to the door and she abruptly turned around to face him. “I enjoyed meeting you, John. I wish it was under better circumstances,” she said with a warm smile.
“I do, too. It was nice meeting you, too, Miss Thomas, my wife’s friend.”
She laughed, and John opened the door for her. Rachel waved as she walked out.
“See you soon,” she hollered as she hurried to her car.
On her way home, Rachel stopped by the grocery store and bought a pint of chocolate ice cream. She thought about John and his heartbreak over Jamie. For a brief moment, she scolded Jamie for giving up on her marriage, but her scolding turned to sorrow, when reality hit her again. Damn, I’m going to miss that girl!
Once she arrived home, Rachel went to the kitchen, opened her chocolate ice cream and put two scoops of the dessert in a plastic bowl. She put the rest in the refrigerator, then she went to the living room and plopped on the couch. Exhausted from grieving, Rachel turned on the TV, inserted a movie in the VCR, and ate her bowl of ice cream. For the rest of the afternoon, she watched funny movies, and at dusk, she put on her pajamas and climbed into bed.
As Always Thank-You For Reading, Comments Welcome!
Yesterday was a hot, sweltering day in the high nineties in Powder Springs. Later in the evening, while preparing for bed, thunderstorms blew with a vengeance through the neighborhood. When I woke up this morning at seven, I noticed the sun ‘s rays creeping through the blinds. I rolled out of bed and gazed out the window and noticed the sun shining more radiantly than usual. The leaves on the oak trees in my yard seemed to glisten brightly in the soft breeze.
The evening storm brought in a cooler temperature, and I decided to go for a morning stroll. After I changed into a pair of shorts and a tee-shirt, I slipped on my Nikes, grabbed my cell phone and sunglasses, and ran out the door. The cool breeze felt good against my skin, a nice change from the blistering, hot weather from the day before.
I hastened my pace, picking up speed, and the weight of the world pressed on me. I thought about the staggering number of coronavirus cases growing daily in Georgia, and the deepening isolation the virus has caused between myself, my family and close friends. I wondered if life would ever be healthy again, or were we destined as a nation to be locked forever behind a suffocating mask. I thought about the lives lost because of racism and the growing threat to this country’s democracy. I wondered if this country would ever again have a president who possesses qualities of common decency, morality and compassion. I wondered about alot of adverse issues as I strolled down the street in my neighborhood.
I struggled with these awful thoughts until I banished them out of my mind preferring to focus on my blessings and those yet to come. In the mist of my walk, a brown jackrabbit hopped in my path. I jumped back, wide-eyed, startled out of my wits. For a moment, the rabbit sat, staring at me, and the rabbit’s smooth, velvety, light brown fur glistened in the bright sunlight.
Suddenly, the rabbit took off, hopping across the grassy lawn straight to the bushes. The little critter stopped and twisted his little body sideways. He sat on his hind legs, looking at me with one eye. I reached deep in my pocket and took out my cell phone. I quickly scrolled through the apps straight to the camera. While I adjusted the camera, the rabbit seemed to pose as if he knew his picture was about to be taken. I took several photos of the little creature before he took off again, disappearing into the bushes.
As I continued with my morning stroll, I thought about that little rabbit. To me, the rabbit represented hope and free will. These God-given gifts still rang true and revelant today. Although, I can’t expect a trouble-free world, and trials will certainly come no matter what, the rabbit’s presence reminded me that God is real, always near, sheltering me and protecting me as I soldier through this, precarious journey of life.
Thank-you For Reading. Have A Wonderful Sunday, Everyone!