Greetings, fellow indie writers and readers! I am Beem Weeks, author of the historical fiction/coming-of-age novel JAZZ BABY and SLIVERS OF LIFE: A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES. My goal in life is to promote the indie movement to the world. I can be found on Twitter @VoiceOfIndie and @BeemWeeks. I enjoy indie films, loud music, and a well told story. Lansing, Michigan, USA.
Slivers Of Life
Nobody around these parts could ever recall a time when Charlie Tricklett had been anything less than fit as a proverbial fiddle. Even as a child, when every other kid in the fifth grade over at Sumpterville Elementary School let those Gawd-awful chicken pox come home to roost, amazing Charlie didn’t find a single bump on his skin. So it became quite a curious thing when the man took to his sickbed late last month.
Now, nobody expected much would come of this rare bout with illness. It started right after Charlie had gone to bed one evening after his nightly pipe. He smoked out on his front porch, the way he’d done for most of his adult life. Next morning, though, the man complained of a busy stomach. Like maybe he’d ate a thing or two that didn’t quite sit well with him.
“I’ll get over this in a few hours,” Charlie told his wife Elmira. “It ain't like I'm dying.”
Elmira just gave up a short nod, handed the man his pipe, thus granting her approval for a rare indoor smoke.
Two days later old Charlie hadn’t gotten any better. In fact, some might even say the man had taken a turn for the worse. He’d gone past vomiting, pushing up only air and a little spit from time to time. He didn’t bother with food or drink, either; it’d only just have come right back up.
Two weeks into his ordeal Charlie sought the advice of Doctor Ronanberg—a rare occurrence indeed! The only time the good doctor ever entered the Tricklett home was on those once-monthly Friday night poker games.
Doc Ronanberg gave the man a thorough twice-over, gathering statistical details on things referred to as vitals, swiping a fair amount of blood and urine—of which old Charlie was none-too-pleased to part—before proclaiming the situation perplexing.
“Suppose it’s some new plague,” Charlie suggested to his wife. “Maybe they’ll name it after me if I die from it.”
“Doubtful,” is all Elmira said of the subject, handing the man his nightly pipe.
* * *
The good people of Sumpterville took turns helping put Charlie’s crops into his fields. The man himself couldn’t so much as raise his head up off his pillow by that third week. But there’d be food on the table come harvest.
“Never could stand the smell of that awful poison,” Charlie said, concerning the stink of herbicide coming off the freshly turned field next to the house. “Always makes me sick to my stomach.”
* * *
By the end of the month, Charlie had reached his end. All the life had sneaked away during the previous weeks, leaving the man ready for his face-to-face with the Almighty.
It was here, on what would most certainly be his deathbed, that Charlie opted to ease his conscience, to make confession of what he’d been up to during that last month before he took sick.
“Elmira,” he proclaimed in his weak and pitiful voice. “I’ve been carrying on with Virginia Slocum up the road. It’s only been just recently, but I’m most guilty of sin.”
Elmira, with a grin upon her thin lips, leaned in close to her husband of twenty-five years and whispered sweetly into his ear. “I already knew that, Charlie. That’s why I’ve been putting all that herbicide in your pipe tobacco.”
* * *
Charlie had gone on to his maker by the time old Doctor Ronanberg discovered the high amounts of herbicide in those blood and urine samples. And since Charlie had been a life-long man of the fields, his death would go down as a hazard of the farming trade.
And what of Elmira?
Well, she sold off the farm, bought herself a plane ticket to Florida, and found her own face-to-face with the Almighty when that same airplane came down unexpectedly in a farmer’s field just outside of Atlanta.
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