The Meaning of Life

Once upon a time a forty-year-old man named Peter sat under a red maple tree in a secluded corner of his backyard and tried to figure out the meaning of life.  He had a happy marriage: Check.  He’d found a profession that was reasonably satisfying:  Check.  Two rather nice children:  Check.  Saved for their college education:  Check.  On track to retire in twenty years:  Check.  Health holding up fine:  Check.

So, with his wife and kids out of town at the family reunion he’d preferred to skip, he was on his own this week and on vacation as well.  No one was depending on him; no one was expecting him to show up.  He had complete freedom for seven days.

He finished his morning coffee and set the mug down on the grass.  He ate a cereal bar and stuck the wrapper into the pocket of his wind breaker.  He sat.  He licked his lips.  He sniffed the early autumn air.  Now what?

51 responses to “The Meaning of Life

  1. GALELIKETHEWIND

    THE MEANING OF LIFE

    Those who only knew Peter from his current position as a senior executive in a Fortune 500 company, would not suspect that he had been one of the biggest hell-raisers at Berkeley in the 1980’s. He leaned back on the lawn and sniffed the crisp air, in an attempt to clear his mind enough to bring back some of the memories of those crazy years.
    God, the LSD, he thought. How did I survive that much acid without ruining my brain cells. Of course it did give me some rather interesting views on the meaning of life. Christ, the strongest thing I’ve had in the last ten years is a shot or two of Single Malt Scotch, mused Peter. He remembered his old pal Tom, still a stoner after all these years. He only heard from him once or twice a year when Tom would get so loaded that he would call everyone he knew and lament about the old days. The thought occurred to Peter that with a free week, he might reach out to Tom. No one would know. Wonder if he could score some acid? Probably. Not a good idea, Peter, he chided himself.
    But the more he sat and stared at his perfect backyard, the more he began to feel as if it was all a big sham. Is this what that crazy Peter Hankle in college wanted ? Was this all that life had to offer? Wife, kids, job, house, and retirement someday? He reached into his shirt pocket, and pulled out his Iphone. Tom had called about a month ago, and if he could find the call on the recent calls listing, he could call him from that. There it is, he said to himself as he found it. Peter felt a sort of thrill as he touched the number to place the call to his past.
    “Hullo?” said Tom, obviously zoned out at the moment.
    “Hey man, it’s Peter. What’s up?” He suddenly found himself speaking like an eighteen year old.
    “Peter! Cool, man, that you called. I was just rolling up a few joints, you know. Got some crazy stuff from Thailand. Much stronger than the old days. Gotta be careful with this shit, you know?”
    “Tom, my family is away for a week, and thought maybe we could get together for a beer or something.” The “or something” surprised Peter. What was he thinking?
    “Yeah, man, sounds good. You doin anything tonight?” replied Tom, always ready to party,”I could come by your house.”
    “It might be better if we met closer to your place.” said Peter, trying to visualize explaining Tom to his neighbors. Tom never was one to shave and bathe very often, remembered Peter.
    “OK, man, there is a bar near here called the Pony Club. It’s on Slauson near Western. We could meet up there.”
    “About Eight?” asked Peter.
    “See you there, alright ! It’ll be great Peter, it’s been way too long, man.”

    Peter parked his Jag around the corner from the Pony Club, and entered through the rear door. The smell of old beer and urine permeated his nostrils as he ambled down the narrow hall toward the noise from the blaring jukebox. He spotted Tom at the bar, talking with one of the ponies. All the waitresses at this joint were wearing ponytails not only in their hair, but also on their short-shorts. Each one had a small tail hanging off the rear, and after serving a drink, the girls would turn around and shake their tail-feathers so to speak.
    “Tom, my man!” yelled Peter over the din, “How ya doin?” Tom reached out and gave Peter a rough bear hug, nearly dropping his beer in the process.
    “Good to see you Pete. You are lookin good!” Tom was wearing cut off jeans and a well worn T-shirt with a faded Stones logo on the front. A sharp contrast to Peter’s khaki’s and powder blue dress shirt. Peter felt just a bit overdressed. Peter ordered a beer for himself, and Tom was quick to tell the cute bartender that he would like a refill.
    “This is on me.” Said Peter. Tom looked relieved, and mumbled a thank you. After a couple of rounds, and some reliving of old memories, Peter decided to take the plunge. “I know, you have connections, Tom,” and he lowered his voice to a whisper and moved close to Tom’s ear,”do you know where I can get some acid?” Tom looked shocked for a second, then smiled.
    “Just like old times, huh? Let’s get out of here..”
    They climbed into Peter’s car, and Tom provided directions to a neighborhood about a mile away.
    “Wait here, man.” said Tom, as he exited the car, and walked up to the front door of a small wood framed house. He went inside for a few minutes, and then came back with a big smile on his face. He slipped into the passenger seat, and handed Peter a small vial. “That ought to do you, pal. It is amazing what you can get if you have the money.” As Peter pulled from from the curb and headed into the lane of traffic, he heard a loud squawking noise. Then he saw the blazing red and blue lights of the Police cruiser.
    “PULL OVER.” came the broadcast from the police car’s speaker.
    “Oh shit!” winced Peter,”What the fuck did I do?” His mind was racing as he was thinking about a traffic violation, or the fact that he had consumed several beers. He pulled over to the curb, and waited for the police officer to approach. Then he noticed that both officers were outside his door with guns drawn. He hit the button and the drivers side window opened.
    “Put your hands on the wheel, and then step out of the car, very slowly. You there, put your hands on the dash and keep them there he shouted at Tom.” He then had Peter place his hands on top of the Jaguar and spread his legs.
    Peter did as he was asked, completely forgetting the small vial that was in his shirt pocket.
    “We have been watching that house for weeks now.” whispered the cop into Peter’s ear as he frisked him, “What have we here?” he asked, as he held up the bottle of little tablets of LSD.
    “Uh.” was all Peter could think to say, as the police officer gently cuffed his wrists behind his back.

    Nancy arrived home, and called out Peter’s name. She had been worried that he did not call her all week, but she had told him to really take some time to himself, and if that included not calling the family, she figured he had it coming. He worked so hard. After a minute, she saw the message light blinking on the phone in the kitchen.
    “You have ONE new message” spoke the robotic phone voice. She touched the play button.
    “This is Sergeant Davis from the Compton Police Department,. Please call 213 555 9882 at your earliest convenience. We have your husband in custody.”

  2. A little taste of reality! It reminds of when I recently heard the song “Ticky Tacky Houses” which I think was written by Pete Seeger in the 1960s. Now that we are treated daily to pictures of people living in refugee camps or being blown up by suicide bombers, it sure makes those nice warm ticky tacky houses with indoor plumbing look good. Thank your muse for getting a good grip on you.

  3. Gale, I was totally enthralled with this piece. Please continue the story, it is terrific, really.

  4. Nice one, but please don’t leave us here!

  5. DAY ONE:

    Peter sat under the maple tree, contemplating the meaning of life. This was the first of seven days of absolute freedom—freedom from work, the wife and kids, and anything else that got in the way of anything he wanted to do.

    I can do anything, he realized, and no one would be the wiser, as long as I don’t get arrested.

    First thing I’m going to do, he decided, is go over to the Village Inn and have some bacon and eggs. Sarah would never allow bacon in the house, so here’s my chance That is my first little sinful rebellion, he laughed. So, off he went to the Village Inn Pancake House.

    “Coffee, black. No, wait. Coffee with real cream and real sugar,” said Peter. “A rasher of bacon and a soft-boiled… No, two eggs, over medium, rye toast, and a short stack.”

    When his feast arrived, Peter savored every last bite, then sat back in the booth with a self-satisfied smile. He tipped the waitress thirty percent, throwing economic caution out the door, and headed home to the maple tree.

    DAY TWO:

    Peter got up late, very late, before going to the maple tree to contemplate the meaning of life with a glass of milk. “Before the crack of noon,” as he used to say in college, which was the last time he could remember sleeping so late.

    Actually, Peter had to get up several times during the night and use the restroom, thanks to the vast quantity of water he drank yesterday because of the salty bacon. Every time he got up, he’d also had a glass of water with an Alka-Seltzer fizzing in it, thanks to the unaccustomed fat intake at breakfast.

    Then he remembered Al, the guy at work who always had the hottest stories about the strip club across town. That’s what I’ll do, he decided, and off to the strip club he went—after looking up its address in the phone book. The stink of cigarette smoke almost changed his mind when we walked in, but he decided he could tolerate it for one night on the town.

    “Bud Lite,” he said to the barely-clad girl, then sat back to watch the show. On stage a girl who looked to be about sixteen was squirming around a pole, somewhat in beat to the horrendously loud music. He tried to catch some of the lyrics, but the singer was screaming and lyric-detecting was impossible. Instead, he concentrated on the girl’s body until his collar started to feel too tight.

    Peter caught sight of some guys across the bar. He noticed their buzz cuts and figured they were from the nearby military base. They were partying hearty, perhaps too heartily, Peter realized, and remembered he’d done the same thing before shipping out to Vietnam. He signaled the server and bought a round for the GIs.

    When she served it, they turned to Peter with expectant faces. Peter raised two fingers to his eyebrow. The boys did the same, their expressions gone solemn, their shoulders straightened, their jaws rock hard with determination.

    He left his beer unfinished. It seemed to have gone skunky sometime in the last few minutes.

    DAY THREE:

    Peter sat under the maple tree until mid-afternoon, contemplating the meaning of life. Earlier, he’d taken his jacket to the dry cleaners to get the cigarette stink out of it, and threw the rest of the clothes he’d worn into the washer.

    Now what? Poker. Yeah, Jim always invites me to poker on Wednesdays, but that’s the night he coached Bobby’s Little League practices so he was never free to attend. So, poker it is. He called Jim and walked over to his house.

    “What’s the ante, guys?” asked Peter. They were in Jim’s garage because Jim’s wife wouldn’t allow cigarettes or cigars in the house, and what’s a poker game without smoke? They also had to keep the overhead doors open, and that let in the mosquitoes.

    Later on, fifty bucks poorer, Peter walked home, grabbed a glass of water, and sat under the maple tree, scratching the mosquito bites on his forehead. Fifty bucks, he moaned. I could have taken Jen and the kids to a movie for that.

    DAY FOUR:

    Peter sat under the maple tree, contemplating the meaning of life. He was at a loss as to what to do today. Jen had called late last night. She had her relatives on the line. Peter spoke with her father, Ben, a man he’d come to think of as his own father.

    Darn, he missed that guy. He should have gone to the reunion.

    Peter went to bed early that night, but sleep was to find.

    DAY FIVE:

    Peter sat under the maple, contemplating the meaning of life. Today and two more, thought Peter. If I’m going to break loose and do something wild, it better be soon.

    His gaze crossed the yard and landed on a blue tarp covering a pile of lumber that he’d foolishly bought a few years back. Probably rotten by now, he thought.

    Well, that’s what I’ll do today—cut it up for firewood.

    When he pulled the tarp off, though, the cedar was a clean as the day he’d bought it. He looked at it a long time, then went back to the maple tree.

    Something wild and crazy, he thought, and stayed under the maple tree for a long time.

    DAY SIX:

    Peter got up early, feeling like a million bucks. He had a quick cup of coffee under the maple tree, briefly contemplated the meaning of life, then got to his agenda for the day. A half hour later, all the neighborhood guys showed up with their toys.

    “Man Cave day!” declared Henry and the others cheered.

    DAY SEVEN:

    Peter sat under the maple tree with his coffee, contemplating the meaning of life. Early the next morning, he’d be certain of his conclusion.
    He finished his coffee, then hustled about the back yard.

    DAY EIGHT:

    Peter had to skip his morning contemplation of life under the maple tree because Jen’s plane was due in at 6:30 A.M. It would have to wait, he decided.

    He parked the car in the driveway, unloaded the suitcase, and followed his family into the house.
    “I missed you guys. I have something to show you,” he said, and led the way to the back door. “This is for you.” He opened the door onto the beautiful, exquisite multi-level cedar deck. He’d even gone to Home Depot and bought some potted plants to dress it up.

    He watched their faces and knew he’d gotten it right.

    Later that day, Peter sat under the maple tree with a glass of lemonade that Jen had made from real lemons. Above his head, his kids yelled and shouted down from their new tree fort, “Thanks, Dad. We love it!”

    This is the meaning of life, he decided. Family, friends, and love.

  6. There I go again, changing names in mid-story. Jen is Peter’s wife, not Sarah. Should have let this one cook a while. Already see things I’d change.

  7. DAY ONE:

    Peter sat under the maple tree in his back yard with a cup of coffee, contemplating the meaning of life. This was the first of seven days of absolute freedom—freedom from work, the wife and kids, and anything else that got in the way.

    I can do anything, he realized, and no one would be the wiser, as long as I don’t get arrested.

    First thing I’m going to do, he decided, is go over to the Village Inn and have some bacon and eggs. Jen would never allow bacon in the house, so here’s my chance. This is my first little sinful rebellion, he laughed. So, off he went to the Village Inn Pancake House.

    “Coffee, black. No, wait. Coffee with real cream and real sugar,” said Peter. “A rasher of bacon and a soft-boiled… no, make that two eggs over medium, rye toast.” He paused. “And a short stack.”

    When his feast arrived, Peter savored every last bite, then sat back in the booth with a self-satisfied smile. He tipped the waitress thirty percent, throwing economic caution out the door, and headed home.

    DAY TWO:

    Peter got up late, very late, before going to the maple tree to contemplate the meaning of life over a glass of milk. “Before the crack of noon,” as he used to say in college, which was the last time he could remember sleeping so late.

    Actually, Peter had to get up several times during the night and use the restroom, thanks to the vast quantity of water he drank yesterday because of the salty bacon. Every time he got up, he’d also had a glass of water with an Alka-Seltzer fizzing in it, thanks to the unaccustomed fat intake at breakfast.

    Then he remembered Al, the guy at work who always had the hottest stories about the strip club across town. That’s what I’ll do, he decided, and off to the strip club he went—after looking up its address in the phone book. The stink of cigarette smoke almost changed his mind when we walked in, but he decided he could tolerate it for one night on the town.
    “Bud Lite,” he said to the barely-clad girl, then sat back to watch the show. On stage a girl with torn fishnet stockings who looked to be about sixteen was squirming around a pole, somewhat in beat to the horrendously loud music. He tried to catch some of the lyrics, but the singer was screaming and lyric-detecting was impossible. Instead, he concentrated on the girl’s body until his collar started to feel too tight.

    He caught sight of some guys across the bar. He noticed their buzz cuts and figured they were from the nearby military base. They were partying hearty, perhaps too heartily, Peter realized, and remembered he’d done the same thing before shipping out to Vietnam. He signaled the server and bought a round for the GIs.

    When she served it, they turned to Peter with expectant faces. Peter raised two fingers to his eyebrow. The boys did the same, their expressions gone solemn, their shoulders straightened, their jaws rock hard with determination. Peter could see the shadow of fear in their eyes.

    It was hard to think of those young men going to war. He left his beer unfinished. It seemed to have gone skunky sometime in the last few minutes.

    DAY THREE:

    Peter sat under the maple tree until mid-afternoon, contemplating the meaning of life. Earlier, he’d taken his jacket to the dry cleaners to get the cigarette stink out of it, and threw the rest of the clothes he’d worn into the washer.

    Now what? Poker. Yeah, Jim always invites me to poker on Wednesdays, but that’s the night he coached Bobby’s Little League practices so he was never free to attend. So, poker it is. He called Jim and walked over to his house.

    “What’s the ante, guys?” asked Peter. They were in Jim’s garage because Jim’s wife wouldn’t allow cigarettes or cigars in the house, and what’s a poker game without smoke? They also had to keep the overhead doors open, and that let in the mosquitoes.

    Later on, fifty bucks poorer, Peter walked home, grabbed a glass of water, and sat under the maple tree, scratching the mosquito bites on his forehead. Fifty bucks, he moaned. For that, I could have taken Jen and the kids to a movie they’ve been wanting to see.

    DAY FOUR:

    Peter sat under the maple tree, contemplating the meaning of life. He was at a loss as to what to do today. Jen had called late last night. She had her relatives on the line. Peter spoke with her father, Ben, a man he’d come to love as much as his own father.

    Darn, he missed that guy. He should have gone to the reunion.

    Peter went to bed early that night, but sleep was to find.

    DAY FIVE:

    Peter sat under the maple with his morning coffee, contemplating the meaning of life. Today and two more, thought Peter. If I’m going to break loose and do something wild, it better be soon.

    His gaze crossed the yard and landed on a blue tarp covering a pile of lumber that he’d foolishly bought a few years back. Probably rotten by now, he thought.

    Well, that’s what I’ll do today—cut it up for firewood.

    When he pulled the tarp off, though, the cedar was a clean as the day he’d bought it. He looked at it for a while, then went back to the maple tree.

    Something wild and crazy, he thought, and stayed under the maple tree for a long time.

    DAY SIX:

    Peter got up early, feeling like a million bucks. He had a quick cup of coffee under the maple tree, briefly contemplated the meaning of life, then got to his agenda for the day. A half hour later, all the neighborhood guys showed up with their toys.

    “Man Cave day!” declared Henry and the others cheered.

    DAY SEVEN:

    Peter sat under the maple tree with his coffee, contemplating the meaning of life.

    He finished his coffee, then hustled about the back yard cleaning up the evidence of Man Cave day.

    DAY EIGHT:

    Peter had to skip his morning contemplation of life under the maple tree because Jen’s plane arrived at 6:30 A.M. It would have to wait, he decided.

    He parked the car in the driveway, unloaded the suitcases, and followed his family into the house. “I missed you guys, really missed you. I have something to show you,” he said, and led the way to the back door. “This is for you.” He opened the door onto the beautiful, exquisite multi-level cedar deck. He’d even gone to Home Depot and bought some potted plants to dress it up.

    Later that day, his kids yelled and shouted down from their new tree house, “We love it, Dad It’s the best tree house ever. We love it!”

    A leaf with the first blush of autumn landed in Peter’s lap as he and Jen sat under the maple tree enjoying the meaning of life. He laughed, knowing the leaves were going to have to hang on tightly this season if they were going to survive two rambunctious kids.

  8. Barbara Burris

    I really liked this, Gullie. I’m still a sucker for happy endings. This story gives all those warm cozy feelings I love.

  9. He is one lucky guy. Here you show us how he comes to realize it. Now you’re giving me ideas. Hmmmm. Are you taking muse lessons in your spare time?

  10. Muse lessons? Nope, just dictation for the Muse. At midnight.

  11. Liked this one too, Gully! Home is where the heart is!

  12. Peter was a recreational writer. He wrote whenever he had a spare moment and he had more spare moments stretching out in front of him now than he’d had for more years than he could remember. What am I waiting for, he asked himself. With no distractions for days to come, he could spend hours at a time under the elm, emptying himself of all the clutter that had accumulated since his last writing opportunity several months ago. It wasn’t bad stuff that filled his mind; it was stuff that just needed a bit of shaking down, organizing and settling within himself.

    Pete knew exactly where he had stored his writing tools and he made a beeline for them. Paper and pen were in the desk drawer right where he’d left them. No other writing method did it for him. Sure, his laptop was an option, but he spent more time on it every single day than he really wanted to. Writing was a relaxing and therapeutic pastime for Pete. A time for moving slow. He’d always totally immersed himself mentally and physically when he put crisp black words down on crisp white paper with an easy-flowing, writing instrument.

    After grabbing a lawn chair from the deck, Peter settled in under the elm tree again. He felt like a million bucks. He thought of how far he’d come in the last ten years and how happy his choices had made him. He opened his notebook, uncapped his pen and took a deep breath.

    Peter lost track of the days. He wrote outside under the elm during the day and inside on the screen porch when it rained or when the sun went down and he couldn’t see his words any longer. Three notebooks and three pens later, he heard car doors open and close in the driveway. The sounds startled him. He stood up and stretched the stiffness out of his limbs. At the thought of seeing his wife and kids, Pete felt an urgent and pleasant swelling in his chest. Looking down at the notebooks scattered on the coffee table and floor, he mumbled a prayer of thanks. Without Molly, Jen and Jeff, there would have been no words.

    • All right, Shaddy. Like Ann said, good to see you writing again. A wife and a couple kids would be great fodder for the muse. BTW, have you ever read Shirley Jackson’s “Life among the Savages”?

    • galelikethewind

      I really liked how you characterized the way time screams by when you are total immersed in creative writing..(He heard the car doors open and close in the driveway. The sounds startled him.) We have all been there.
      Thanks

    • I must not have been paying attention in BWW because I don’t remember anything about exclamation points. I always look forward to your posts. You never disappoint. Really liked this.

      • Thank you, Lisa. Perhaps I’m remembering a tip from one of the other writing classes I’ve taken. I recall learning that the use of exclamation points should be limited. Normally, I’m guilty of exclaiming excessively!!!! See?? I’ve done it again!!! When I talk, I often really get into what I’m saying so I feel the need to do the same when I write.

  13. Aww. You’ve written such a happy story, Shaddy! Too often the good life turns into boredom, but not for Peter. He’s a writer! He knows just what to do with all that goodness.

    We’ve missed you! Good to see you writing. –Ann

    • Aww back to you, Ann. You’re such a great encourager. Always have been and always will be. Thanks a million. (I wanted to put an exclamation point after that last sentence but especially for you, I didn’t. I may have been rowdy in class but I was paying attention). 🙂

  14. Peter put his coffee cup down. The earth beneath him shifted. Huh? Suddenly a giant sinkhole appeared beneath him and he sank down, down down. Earth rained in on his head. The maple tree crashed over, just missing him as the sink hole grew wider and wider. The sky was almost completely blotted out.

    Peter peered through the dust and tried to throw off the dirt that nearly covered him to his waist. Something poked him in the shoulder, then poked him again. A troll?

    (I’m too busy tonight to finish this, but I’m sure you guys will know what to do.)

    • Peter turned around to find himself face to face with Harry Potter. Harry looked at least as surprised as Peter to find himself underground.

      “I’m sorry, sir,” Harry said. “I seem to have mismanaged my wand.”

      “You’re that wizard guy in all those books by J. K. Rowling, aren’t you? My kids were really into you a few years ago.” Peter asked. “Can you properly manage your wand and put me back where I was?”

      “No problem, sir.”

      “Better yet, can you take me for a ride on your, what was it called, Firebolt broomstick? I’ve got a week to myself. That should be enough time for us to provide enough fodder for Rowling’s next book.

      (A note from Shaddy: I’m on Book Five of the Harry Potter series which explains why I came up with this scenario. I’ve been told I was slow to crawl which may explain why I’m slow at getting to this mega-famous book series). 🙂

  15. Galelikethewind

    Peter awoke from the sinkhole nightmare and very slowly took in all the details of his cell. His only vision of jail before tonight had been in movies or on television. As he overcame his instinct to vomit when the smell of human closeness entered his nostrils, he saw that the walls were scarred and filthy, and the floor was slippery with a dark brown grime.
    If only he could call Nancy. Weren’t they supposed to allow you one phone call? Or is that just some Hollywood device?
    He had learned very quickly throughout the lengthy booking procss that once you crossed the threshold of the prison door, your rights were gone, and no preference to prior social status exists in this place.
    (To be continued)

    • Hey, Gale, you’re good. I find your writing to be very entertaining besides well-written. Please do continue on.

      • galelikethewind

        thx Shaddy. I think this will be my May 1 submission…in total. It will be over 1000 words tho…

  16. Pardon me for posting something so off topic, but my writing is the only way I could think of to pay tribute to my neighbor. I titled this piece;

    HOME
    It was time for our afternoon walk, and as is her custom, Zoey, my four year old Maltese bolted from the door and smack dab into the rear end of our new neighbor, Chachkey. She was a Wire Haired Terrier who was owned by an equally wired haired, elderly gentleman named Mr. Bailey. It was May of 2010 and Zoey and I had just moved into the ground floor apartment beneath Mr. Bailey and pup.
    Being that this was our first encounter, I felt compelled to apologize for Zoey’s exuberant bump into Chachkey and for her propensity to bark at anything that moves in our back yard. . Mr. Bailey smiled graciously and assured me that neither her greeting nor her yapping posed a problem as he was nearly deaf. We were a “neighbor-match” made in heaven; He played his television much too loud and Zoey lacks any social graces.

    Mr. Bailey was a tall man who had distinguished silver hair and a dapper handlebar mustache. I only spoke to him a few times in our three year acquaintance, but since our apartments are identical floor plans, I could tell where Mr. Bailey and Chachkey were just by listening to the footsteps over my head.

    Last summer, I heard him take a fall. I listened for footsteps, which would indicate that he had gotten up and was alright. Not hearing any, I called the complex office and they sent a maintenance man to check on his status. Mr. Bailey had a cut his arm, but was otherwise unhurt. These falls became more frequent, and my routine was always the same; wait and listen for footsteps or call the office.

    Three weeks ago, Mr. Bailey fell again. As usual, I listened for him to get up, but did not hear any movement except Chachkey running from room to room. I called the office and they sent the maintenance man, Steve. We entered Mr. Bailey’s home to find him on his kitchen floor. Steve started CPR as I called 911 and tried to calm Chachkey. Mr. Bailey was most likely dead before we entered his apartment. The EMT’s took Mr. Bailey away, Steve took Chachkey to the office and I was questioned by the police about the events.

    Officials were unable to find any family or friends of Mr. Bailey. He and Chachkey lived alone, evidently, very alone. Knowing that now makes me regret not having made more of an effort to get to know my neighbor.

    I am saddened by the fact that his passing is marked by crime scene tape across his front door instead of a chapel full of beautiful flowers. I hardly knew Mr. Bailey and yet our lives were connected. We were synchronized in our daily routines. I knew that by the sounds of his footsteps and the thumping of Chachkey’s rope toy on the carpet. I hardly knew him, and yet, we shared one of life’s most intimate moments; death. I am humbled to have been there when God called Mr. Bailey home. Rest in peace neighbor, and know that we found Chachkey a very good home too.

  17. This is a beautiful tribute. I believe you were a very good neighbor to Mr. Bailey. If you hadn’t called for help all those times you heard him fall, his life may have been much shorter. I’m happy knowing Chachkey is in good hands.

  18. What Shaddy said? Ditto.

  19. We are back last night from an 8-day vacation to California. We spent some lovely time walking the beach, listening to the waves roar at night through the open windows of our beach house, strolling through Muir Woods, being a part of a niece’s wedding, and celebrating our 44th wedding anniversary. So, instead of writing about someone’s meaning of life, we were gifted, for a few days, to experience it.

    It looks like I have a lot of reading to do here!

    • galelikethewind

      Welcome back Jeff – missed your take on the challenges. Really enjoyed your Cotton Candy piece. It conjered up the entire Carny scene for me.

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